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Dry Mouth Can Cause Serious Dental Problems

By William Couvelis, DDS on April 26, 2017


A woman looking at her smile in the mirrorPatients come to our Chicago dental practice knowing that we take all issues seriously. Whatever your problem or concern, we can offer cosmetic, restorative, and preventative dental procedures to meet your needs and improve the health of your smile.

Dry mouth is a common issue that many people face, yet they don't realize how potentially harmful it can be. Let's take a moment to consider the nature of dry mouth and its various dangers.

About Dry Mouth

Also referred to as xerostomia, dry mouth is a condition in which a person lacks sufficient moisture in their mouth. The lack of saliva can make it difficult to eat and speak, and can also lead a general sense of discomfort in the mouth. Yet the lack of saliva in the mouth can also lead to serious dental health issues, if not also serving as a sign of a major health problem.

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

Some of the most common causes of dry mouth include the following:

  • Blocked salivary glands
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Dehydration
  • The natural aging process
  • Nerve damage
  • Mouth breathing
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Use of tobacco products
  • Side effect of medications or drug use
  • Symptom of a systemic condition

Occasional cases of dry mouth are not out of the ordinary. If your dry mouth is recurring or chronic, however, it can be a cause for concern.

Issues with Tooth Decay and Structure

Saliva is essential for the remineralization of your teeth. When there is no saliva present, this process is interrupted, leaving your teeth far more susceptible to acidic erosion, decay, and fractures. Over a long period of time, this can lead to severe dental health problems.

Heightened Risk of Gum Disease

In addition to increasing the risk of tooth fractures and erosion, dry mouth can also lead to an increased risk of gum disease. The dryness of the mouth winds up being an ideal home for oral bacteria, which makes bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease far more likely.

Potential Sign of a Serious Health Problem

As we noted above, dry mouth is often a warning sign or symptom of a serious health issue. This includes oral cancers. Sometimes cancerous growths block or affect the salivary glands. If you notice issues with dry mouth accompanied by lesions, growths, discoloration, or pain, be sure to speak with your dentist or your general practitioner right away.

Tips for Preventing Dry Mouth

If you want to prevent dry mouth, your best option is to stay hydrated throughout the day with clean water. Avoiding alcoholic beverages and tobacco products is also quite helpful at preventing dry mouth and improving overall oral health.

Treatment Options for Dry Mouth

There are many different options for treating dry mouth depending on its cause.

Sometimes the treatment is as simple as asking patients to have some sour candies to promote salivation and dislodge a blockage in the salivary glands. Other times an artificial saliva product may be recommended to create sufficient moisture in the mouth. For more serious cases of dry mouth, advanced therapies may be required to get at the root cause of the issue.

Learn More About Improving Your Dental Health

To learn more about treating dry mouth and helping you achieve excellent dental health and wellness, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist today. We look forward to your visit and discussing these matters in more detail with you.

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