4 Reasons Dry Mouth Isn’t Good for Your Oral Health and What to Do

Dry mouth affects your oral health

Are you doing everything right when it comes to oral hygiene, yet you are still getting cavities? Do you often wake up with a feeling of dryness in your mouth? If so, you may be experiencing xerostomia, better known as dry mouth. This condition involves a lack of saliva flow in your mouth, leaving it feeling dry.

What Is Dry Mouth and How to Treat It?

Many people aren’t aware that having a dry mouth can affect their oral health. Here are four reasons why this condition isn’t good for your oral health and what you can do about this uncomfortable condition:

1. Dry mouth allows bacteria to thrive in your mouth.

There are always bacteria in your mouth, making up your oral microbiome. In most cases, these bacteria don’t cause any serious issues. However, they become a problem when they multiply out of control. That’s why brushing and other oral hygiene habits are so important.

Dry mouth can lead to the bacteria in your mouth quickly growing out of control. Saliva has innate antimicrobial properties that deal with bacteria and keep their levels reasonable. A healthy saliva flow plays an integral part in regulating bacteria in your mouth.

When you experience this condition, the saliva flow is significantly restricted. Without a sufficient saliva flow, you don’t benefit from the antimicrobial effects. This allows bacteria to grow and multiply more freely, potentially leading to serious issues.

2. The condition leaves food particles in your mouth.

The innate antimicrobial properties of saliva are just one of the ways that it protects your oral health. It also helps ensure that bits of food aren’t left behind in your mouth. While brushing and flossing are essential, you also have to deal with any accumulation throughout the day.

Healthy saliva flow helps wash away tiny bits of food in your mouth. This is particularly important for sticky foods that can become attached to the surface of teeth and other areas of the mouth.

Dry mouth restricts saliva flow, so those bits of food that would normally be carried away, remain in your mouth. There, they provide a food source for bacteria to multiply in greater numbers.

3. Bacteria related to dry mouth causes tooth decay.

You might wonder why bacteria in your mouth is such a major concern. They’re already there anyway, so what does it matter if there’s more?

High levels of bacteria contribute to tooth decay, leading to sensitivity, dental cavities, and further damage. This is because the bacteria in your mouth metabolize sugars left behind by bits of food and drink. When they do so, they secrete acids. These acids wear away at the enamel, potentially leading to tooth decay.

Dry mouth leads to higher levels of bacteria and more food for them, so they secrete more acid and wear away at your teeth faster. This also allows for the faster formation of plaque on teeth, deposits that allow bacteria to thrive.

4. The condition increases your risk of gum disease.

Gum disease is also a serious concern when it comes to dry mouth. The bacteria in your mouth can irritate and inflame the gums as they secrete acid. When levels are high enough, they can infect the gums and lead to the later stages of gum disease.

This can lead to gum recession that provides sheltered pockets where bacteria can grow even more effectively. You may find yourself needing gum disease treatment to prevent the infection from spreading.

Dry mouth allows bacteria to grow without resistance, so they can quickly affect your gums. You should consider what to do for dry mouth if you start noticing signs of gum disease, such as bad breath and swollen or sore gums.

Steps you can take to combat dry mouth.

There are several options when it comes to what to do for dry mouth, depending on your individual case. 

Sleep apnea often plays a significant part in dry mouth. This condition involves suddenly jolting awake during sleep because you aren’t getting enough air. It’s associated with breathing through the mouth, which contributes to the condition.

If you notice symptoms of sleep apnea, such as snoring, being tired throughout the day, or dry mouth, you should speak to your dentist.. Treatment options such as oral appliances can help resolve your sleep apnea.

Certain medications and conditions can contribute to this condition as well. Diabetes and certain immune disorders are some examples. Your lifestyle may also play a role. Smoking, in particular, is one of the most significant causes of dry mouth.

Schedule a dental appointment today to find out more.

If you are dealing with this condition, the dedicated team at Staley Dental in Boise can help you determine the cause and recommend what to do for dry mouth. At our state-of-the-art facility, we use the most advanced techniques to provide an accurate diagnosis and ensure our treatments are as comfortable as possible.

Book your appointment today to get started.