Our health is something that is easy to take for granted when it is stable, but hard to ignore once a problem arises. Sometimes it seems that abnormalities in our mouth are some of the hardest to ignore and can cause issues from general pain to discomfort while eating and drinking. One issue that many of us face from time to time is dry mouth, and some of us suffer from this condition almost chronically. Characterized by a lack of saliva in the mouth, dry mouth can be both uncomfortable and detrimental to our overall oral health.
A Lack of Saliva
Saliva serves many purposes, including helping us to cleanse our mouths of food and bacteria while aiding in the digestive process. Without saliva, eating can be physically uncomfortable as we struggle to break down our food and move it from our mouths to our throats. After we’ve finished eating, having a dry mouth means that food and bacteria will linger in the mouth longer, allowing plaque to build and increasing the likelihood of decay. This lack of saliva can have many causes and can last for any amount of time. In stressful or high anxiety situations, many people feel parched until the negative feelings have passed. Increased age and certain medications are also known to be contributing factors of dry mouth, and sometimes the issues simply come down to genetic predisposition.
Issues that Arise
As mentioned before, dry mouth increases your chances of tooth decay and cavities. A dry mouth is a hotbed for bacterial growth and plaque formation, meaning that the acids found in plaque can infiltrate your enamel faster than they would in a moist environment. Saliva is also instrumental in mineralizing teeth and helping to keep enamel strong to begin with, making weaker teeth that are more susceptible to decay. Additionally, dry mouth increases the chances of developing sores and fungal infections. Sufferers of dry mouth frequently experience thrush, a condition that causes bad breath and makes eating both difficult and painful.
Treating dry mouth can come in many forms, but the most crucial aspect is restoring as much moisture to the mouth as possible, even if only temporarily. Staying hydrated is integral in fighting dry mouth, and drinking plenty of water while eating will help to wash down food and lessen the chances of lingering particles remaining in the mouth. Some sufferers find that chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugar-free lozenges helps promote saliva production, while others rely on over-the-counter rinses. Smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine, and eating salty or dry food are all large contributors to dry mouth, so avoiding these activities will help to lessen the severity of any dryness you may experience.
If your mouth has been more parched than usual lately, or if you have been trying treatment options to no avail, it may be time to consult your dentist to see what larger issues may be at play.
To schedule an appointment to discuss dry mouth with your dentist, give us a call at Caputo Dental in Naperville today!