You may think you are drinking enough to keep your body hydrated, but if your mouth feels chronically dry and sticky, you might be suffering from more than dehydration – you might be suffering from “dry mouth” or xerostomia. While dry mouth doesn’t sound dangerous, it is actually a serious issue…and a widespread one: it is estimated that over 44 million Americans deal with this problem and its side effects every day! Are you one of them? If you are, dry mouth could be causing cavities and destroying your teeth!
The Dangers of Dry Mouth
Dry mouth sufferers often don’t even notice that there is a problem until saliva flow has decreased by more than 50%. Without saliva, the acids that cause tooth decay will not be washed away. Saliva also lubricates your oral membranes, and believe it or not, contains vital minerals that aid in tooth repair. This means that by the time your saliva is reduced this significantly,the bacteria that normally reside in your mouth have had a chance to get a real foothold on your teeth and gums causing tooth decay and infection.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth can be cause by a wide range of things – too many to list here – from the way you breathe to medications you take. Here are some of the more common causes:
Smoking or chewing tobacco
Snoring or breathing with mouth open
Use of prescriptions to treat depression, anxiety, or pain, among others
Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Diabetes, Hypertension, Anemia
Radiation or chemotherapy
What Can I Do to Fight the Problem
Watching what you eat and drink is always an important part of protecting your oral health and decreasing your risk for cavities, but it is especially important when you have dry mouth. Here are a few tips:
Talk to your doctor about whether your prescription could be decreasing saliva flow.
Decrease your intake of things high in sugar and acids such as soda or sport drinks.
Drink extra water and eat crunchy fruits and vegetables.
Try chewing Xylitol gum and drinking lots of green tea. Both of these can help kill bacteria in your mouth and lower the acidity of your saliva.
Make sure your mouthwash does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate
Call Dr. Huisman, and schedule a complete check up – you could have cavities that aren’t yet causing pain.
For more information about dry mouth, call your Holland dentist, Dr. Jeff Huisman, at 855.599.5584.