Everyone experiences it from time to time: the feeling of a dry mouth. Sometimes it’s caused by something simple like sleeping with your mouth open, and a glass of water is all you need to restore balance. For some people, certain medications can cause dry mouth that can’t be reversed without switching prescriptions.
Regardless of what causes your dry mouth, the bottom line is that it’s more than just annoying, it’s actually really harmful for your teeth, and over time it could even lead to conditions that cause tooth loss.
How Dry Mouth Affects Teeth
Saliva is incredibly important for keeping balance in the mouth and washing away food debris. When dry mouth occurs, saliva production is drastically reduced, leaving the teeth unprotected and unable to clear out daily food particles and bacteria.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, 30 percent of tooth decay in older adults is caused by dry mouth. When tooth decay remains untreated, it can lead to infections and even gum disease, which eventually will lead to permanent tooth loss.
Treating and Preventing Dry Mouth
The first step in treating or preventing chronic dry mouth is to determine what the cause is. Some very common medications for conditions like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, stress, anxiety, depression and even autoimmune disorders can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Talk to your doctor about any medications you’re taking; if dry mouth is a known side effect, ask about any alternative medications that could work for your treatment plan without causing problems for your oral health.
If switching medications isn’t an option, there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage done by chronic dry mouth, such as chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on a mint. This helps increase saliva production in the mouth, and products that contain xylitol, including many sugar-free mints and fums, can actually help prevent cavities. Another important thing to remember if you have chronic dry mouth is that your oral health routine is more important than ever. Brushing thoroughly twice a day and being sure to floss can make a huge difference in your oral health. It’s also imperative to come in for a professional cleaning and exam with Dr. Lesko at least every six months to keep an eye out for any problems so they can be corrected quickly before they require any serious work.
Call us today to schedule an appointment or with any questions about dry mouth at 970-221-5115.