How Dry Mouth Can Affect Your Teeth

Cartoon of a mouth full of saliva as a swimming pool.
Image by Authority Dental under CC 2.0

Did you know your saliva protects your oral health? It’s your body’s natural defense against bacteria because it washes food debris and plaque off your teeth. Dry mouth, which occurs when your mouth can’t produce enough saliva, is more than an uncomfortable problem. It can affect your oral health and lead to other dental issues.

What Does Dry Mouth Do to Your Teeth?

When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, harmful bacteria build up on your teeth and gums in the form of plaque. These bacteria produce acid, which erodes away tooth enamel and forms cavities! Your risk is especially high if you consume lots of sugary foods and beverages.

The bacteria that causes cavities also affects your gums and can lead to gum disease. You may experience symptoms like inflammation, tenderness, and bleeding. But gum disease doesn’t always cause symptoms, especially in its early stage. Once gum disease reaches a certain severity, it can only be managed, not reversed.

What Causes Reduced Saliva?

Many people experience dry mouth as a side effect of certain medications. Antidepressants and antihistamines are just two examples. Medical conditions (like diabetes and autoimmune diseases) can also impact saliva glands. If you drink a lot of alcohol or smoke, you can have reduced saliva, too. A medical professional can help you determine the cause.

How Do You Address Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth shouldn’t be ignored! You may be able to manage it by drinking more water throughout the day, but there are saliva substitutes that can help, too. Avoiding alcohol, tobacco, and mouthwash with alcohol can also combat symptoms.

Protect Your Dental Health with Prairie Dental Group in Eden Prairie, MN

If you struggle with dry mouth, it’s important to visit the dentist for regular cleanings and exams! Our team will help with treatment and any negative effects of dry mouth, like tooth decay and gum disease. If you have questions or want to book an appointment, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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