Can dry mouth lead to cavities?

Tulsa family dentalEveryone suffers from a dry mouth occasionally. Anxiety or nervousness; medications, illness, fever, thirst, and exposure to hot temperatures can all cause one to have a dry mouth. But when a dry mouth becomes a chronic problem, a consultation with your family dental provider is in order to discuss treatment options; failure to respond can have consequences.

Xerostomia is a dry mouth that occurs due to a lack of sufficient saliva production. It is a symptom of a medical malady or a side effect of treatment or certain medications.

Getting this problem under control is very important to your oral health. A dry mouth contributes to bad breath; dry, cracked lips; sore throat; sore or swollen tongue; and difficulty swallowing. We depend on saliva to help us chew and digest our food as well as a natural wash to help keep teeth clean. Failure to produce sufficient saliva can lead to plaque build-up on teeth. This can result in dental decay and gum disease.

Some of the things a patient may do to increase saliva flow include:

  • If a medication is suspected of being the problem, an alternative drug may be prescribed.
  • There are pastes and rinses that help promote saliva production. Many are available over the counter and do not require a medical prescription.
  • Chew sugarfree gum or suck on sugar free candy.
  • Drink water … avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
  • Smoking and tobacco use can inhibit saliva production, so for obvious reasons do not smoke.

Cavities and gum disease are problems that can be prevented. A proper diet, the appropriate daily oral hygiene regimen of brushing and flossing, and consistent visits to your family dental office go a long way to help with prevention.

But even the most diligent patient may be faced with decay or gingivitis. That is why consistent dental visits are important. Your dentist can spot potential problems before they have a chance to escalate into costly and time consuming repairs. And if you notice anything different in your oral health, do not wait until your regular visit … schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Since saliva production is important to your oral health, follow the advice of your dentist for relief. If it’s time to schedule your next exam, contact Howl Dental at 918-749-1626.