The Dangers of Dry Mouth: How It Can Affect Your Teeth
When you think of saliva, chances are you think of how it helps you chew and swallow your food. But saliva plays a surprisingly important role in protecting your teeth, too.
When you eat and drink, food particles and sugars are leftover in the mouth. The bacteria in your mouth feed on these particles and release acids, which wear away at your teeth over time. Saliva helps to wash food particles and sugars away, keeping bacteria at bay and keeping your mouth comfortable.
So what happens to your teeth when you experience dry mouth? As it turns out, dry mouth impacts your teeth quite a lot.
What is dry mouth?
Dry mouth is when your salivary glands don’t produce saliva as much as they should. Typically, dry mouth is a symptom of other medical conditions or a side effect of certain medications. Medications that have been known to cause dry mouth include hormone medications, antihypertensive, antihistamines, and bronchodilators. It’s important not to stop taking your medications without consulting your doctor first.
How can I relieve dry mouth?
Unfortunately, there’s no specific cure for dry mouth. There are only ways to relieve it. Some of the most common methods of relieving dry mouth include:
- Limiting your caffeine intake. Many of us love to drink our morning coffee or tea to get the day going. But if you’re drinking more than a cup a day, it may be worth cutting back. Caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks can dehydrate you and worsen dry mouth.
- Limiting your alcohol intake. Just like caffeinated beverages, alcoholic beverages can also worsen dry mouth because it dehydrates you. Reduce the number of alcoholic beverages you drink, and consider drinking a cup of water for each drink you have
- Limiting your sugar intake. Sugar can also dehydrate your body and can contribute to dry mouth issues. While sugar can’t be avoided altogether, it’s recommended to avoid beverages that are high in sugar content such as fruit juice, sports drinks, and sodas.
- Quitting smoking. One of the many dangers of smoking cigarettes is that it can dry your mouth. Tobacco has also been shown to irritate the gum tissue, putting you at greater risk for periodontal disease.
Why is dry mouth a problem for my dental health?
If you’re experiencing dry mouth, it’s a good idea to talk to your local dentists or your doctor to get a professional opinion on how you can combat it. Left alone, dry mouth can cause issues for your oral health. This is because saliva plays such a big role in neutralizing acids, washing away food particles and sugars, and restoring important minerals to your teeth. Without proper saliva production, you may be at greater risk for:
- Enamel erosion: Your enamel is the first layer of protection for your teeth. When the bacteria in your mouth produce acids, these acids gradually wear away at your teeth’s enamel. Saliva naturally removes these acids from your teeth. When you experience dry mouth, these acids are more likely to sit on your teeth for longer periods, resulting in the wearing away of your enamel.
- Tooth decay: Once bacteria has made it through your enamel, the acids they produce will begin to wear away at your teeth in the form of tooth decay. Approximately one in every five Americans has one or more untreated cavities.
- Gum disease: It’s recommended to visit your local dentists at least once every six months for professional dental work. Dentists help to remove plaque, tartar, and tooth decay from your teeth to help protect your enamel and your dental health. When tooth decay is left untreated, it can begin to irritate and inflame the surrounding gums. When your gum tissue becomes infected, it can lead to gum disease. Gum disease, unfortunately, is one of the most common dental complications of dry mouth.
Are you suffering from dry mouth?
If you’re experiencing dry mouth, it’s important to let your local dentists know to keep a closer eye on your dental health. Because you’re at greater risk for enamel erosion, tooth decay, and gum disease, your dentists may recommend specialized dental care plans to help protect your teeth.
Are you looking for dentists in Gainesville VA and surrounding areas? Gainesville Dental Associates has the general dentists you need. For more information about our dental health services or to schedule an appointment with us, contact Gainesville Dental Associates today.