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What You Should Know about Dry Mouth and Dental Damage

By drfrey on July 14, 2016


A man with a healthy, white smileDry mouth poses many risks to oral health and should not be ignored. This condition can leave the teeth vulnerable to damage, which could become severe if left untreated. Restorative dentistry treatments can address dental damage caused by dry mouth, restoring oral health and dental function. To undergo treatment for dry mouth and dental damage, schedule a consultation with Virginia Beach, VA dentists Scott Parr and Tara Frey.

How Dry Mouth Causes Dental Damage

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a condition in which inadequate saliva is produced. Dry mouth has a number of possible causes, including dehydration, breathing dry air, smoking, genetics, or damaged salivary glands.

Dry mouth poses a risk to oral health as a result of a lack of saliva. Saliva keeps the teeth healthy by neutralizing acids within the mouth, washing away food remnants from the teeth, and restoring minerals within the dental enamel. When dry mouth occurs, the risk of oral issues, like oral sores, chronic bad breath, general oral irritation, and dental damage, increases. Some common types of dental damage caused by dry mouth includes:

  • Tooth decay: Dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay because food remnants, bacteria, and acids are left on the teeth.
  • Enamel erosion: Enamel erosion is more common in patients with dry mouth. This is because acids are left on the teeth, resulting in erosion of the enamel.
  • Gum disease: Dry mouth also increases the risk of gum disease, a bacterial infection of the gums that can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • Tooth discoloration: Tooth discoloration can occur more quickly in those who suffer from dry mouth as a result of food and acids remaining on the teeth.
  • Tooth loss: Tooth decay, enamel erosion, and gum disease are all issues that can occur as a result of dry mouth. If any of these oral health issues goes untreated, tooth loss can occur.

Tips to Alleviate Dry Mouth and Protect Oral Health

In order to protect your smile from the damaging effects of dry mouth, it's important to practice good oral hygiene habits, like brushing and flossing daily, and seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Taking steps to reduce the symptoms of dry mouth can also help protect the smile. Follow these tips to alleviate dry mouth:

  • Try an over-the-counter saliva substitute: Some dry mouth suffers find relief with over-the-counter saliva substitutes.
  • Keep hydrated: Staying hydrated can reduce dry mouth, especially that caused by dehydration. Drinking plenty of water can also help flush away food debris from the teeth and neutralize acids within the mouth.
  • Rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash: Alcohol-based mouthwashes can increase the symptoms of dry mouth. Switch to an alcohol-free mouthwash to reduce dry mouth symptoms.
  • Use a humidifier: Humidifiers add moisture to the air, which can help reduce dry mouth caused by breathing dry air.
  • Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing sugar-free gum throughout the day can help stimulate saliva production, alleviating the symptoms of dry mouth.

Seek Treatment Today

For more information about dry mouth and dental damage, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Parr and Frey.

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