Dry mouth, a condition in which inadequate saliva is produced, can be a temporary nuisance or a chronic problem that won't go away. When dry mouth occurs for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to some major dental damage, including tooth decay. If you suffer from dry mouth, it's important to seek treatment to protect your oral health. Restorative dentistry treatments can restore your dental health and appearance. To find out which treatments for dry mouth and dental damage are right for you, schedule a consultation at our Forney, TX practice, Forney Family Dentistry and Orthodontics.
Dry Mouth and the Risk of Dental Damage
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, poses a risk to oral health because it increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth is dangerous to oral health due to the lack of saliva production. Saliva helps protect the teeth and gums by washing away food remnants from the teeth and neutralizing acids within the mouth. Saliva also helps restore minerals to the teeth, strengthening the enamel and reducing the risk of erosion. When dry mouth is left untreated, it can lead to serious dental damage, including:
- Enamel erosion: Dry mouth allows plaque, bacteria, food debris, and acids to stay in contact with the teeth, increasing the risk of enamel erosion.
- Tooth decay: As dry mouth allows enamel erosion to advance, tooth decay can occur.
- Tooth loss: In severe cases, dry mouth can cause tooth decay to progress to a point where a tooth dies and falls out or requires extraction to restore oral health.
- Tooth discoloration: Dry mouth leaves food remnants, acids, and plaque on the teeth, all of which discolor and stain the teeth.
- Gum disease: Dry mouth also increases the risk of gum disease, a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth decay, loss of jawbone, and tooth loss.
Protect Your Smile from the Dangers of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth may occur as a result of salivary gland infection, dehydration, breathing dry air, taking certain medications, or certain medical conditions. Due to the many possible causes of dry mouth, it is sometimes difficult to treat, but there are steps you can take to protect your smile from dry mouth, regardless of the cause. Some things you can do to protect your smile from dry mouth include:
- Practice good oral hygiene habits: Brushing and flossing routinely is essential for oral health, especially for those who suffer from dry mouth. Dry mouth sufferers should brush a minimum of twice a day for a full two minutes and floss at least once a day. In addition to brushing and flossing, regular dental exams and cleanings should be scheduled every six months.
- Drink plenty of water: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and with meals, can help alleviate the discomfort of dry mouth and prevent dehydration. Drinking water with meals also helps remove food and neutralize acids.
- Use an over-the-counter saliva substitute: Over-the-counter saliva substitutes are available to help alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth.
- Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing sugar-free gum, or sucking on sugar-free hard candies, can help stimulate saliva production and provide some relief from dry mouth.
- Use an air humidifier: Air humidifiers help put moisture back into the air. This can be beneficial for those who experience dry mouth as a result of breathing dry air.
Schedule a Consultation
If you suffer from dry mouth, it's important to be diligent about your dental care to reduce the risk of dental damage and keep your smile at its best for years to come. To schedule your next dental appointment, we welcome you to contact our offices today.