The prevalence of dry mouth in the U.S. ranges from 5.5% to 46%, with an increase in cases correlating with age. Several factors, including dehydration, aging, medications, radiation therapy, tobacco use, nerve damage, and autoimmune diseases, can cause dry mouth. Symptoms of dry mouth include thirst, difficulty speaking, and a sore throat.
A dry mouth occurs when the mouth does not have enough saliva. When there is insufficient saliva, oral health and hygiene functions cannot be performed as effectively, leading to several problems. Learn how a dry mouth affects oral health and how to treat it with the help of your dentist.
Increased Risk of Cavities
Cavities are caused when bacteria, food particles, and dental plaque accumulate on the teeth. Saliva helps to neutralize acids found in foods and rinse away food particles from the teeth. A lack of saliva can also cause dental plaque to accumulate on the teeth more quickly, leading to an increased risk of cavities.
Bacteria can grow more quickly in a dry mouth. This can cause gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. Gum disease occurs when plaque, a hard, sticky film of bacteria, builds up on the teeth. It is a severe condition that can lead to tooth loss if not treated.
Chronic bad breath or halitosis occurs when there is not enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. When there is insufficient saliva, the bacteria in the mouth can grow and release sulfur compounds that cause bad breath. Those with dry mouths often have chronic bad breath, even after brushing, flossing, or using mouthwash.
A dry mouth can contribute to tooth discoloration because of the plaque that builds up on the teeth. If plaque isn’t removed regularly, it can turn into tartar. Tartar is a hard, yellowish-brown substance that forms on your teeth and can only be removed with special dental tools by your hygienist.
How to Treat Dry Mouth
Before treating a dry mouth, it may be essential to find the cause of the dryness. If a medical condition is the cause of your dry mouth, your dentist may refer you to a doctor for treatment.
If a medication is causing your dry mouth, the doctor may suggest changing or stopping the medication. If the dry mouth is due to radiation therapy, they may recommend using a humidifier or gargling with salt water to help produce saliva.
Dentists can prescribe an artificial saliva product, which helps moisten the mouth, make it easier to speak and swallow, and lower the risk of adverse effects on oral health. They can also prescribe medications that help increase saliva production.
Visit a Dental Place to Manage Dry Mouth
If you’re experiencing dry mouth, the dentist and hygienists at A Dental Place can help you understand and manage your dry mouth. We offer personalized treatment plans to address all of your oral health concerns, including dry mouth and any oral side effects caused by it. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.