Numerous issues in dentistry can affect your susceptibility to tooth decay. Some of these are fairly obvious, such as the quality of your everyday oral hygiene and the frequency of your visits to the dentist. However, others, such as dry mouth, are less obviously connected to tooth decay but can dramatically increase your susceptibility.
What’s Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a feeling of dryness in the mouth, usually caused by a lack of saliva. Dry mouth can occur as a short-term condition in response to issues such as stress, or can become chronic due to problems with the saliva glands, certain medications to might be taking, or systemic medical issues such as diabetes or cystic fibrosis.
The lack of sufficient saliva is an important medical concern because of the importance of this substance to our everyday bodily functions. Saliva helps us digest food, keeps the tissues of the mouth healthy, and also helps control bacteria that collect on our teeth. Because bacteria are the root cause of tooth decay, dry mouth can lead to an increased risk of cavities. It can also increase the risk of developing gum disease, and can cause a variety of symptoms such as cracked tissues in the lips and mouth, persistent bad breath, and a chronic sore throat.
Dealing With Dry Mouth
Fortunately, modern dentistry offers several solutions to chronic dry mouth. If you are experiencing persistent dry mouth over a period of time, you should see your dentist as soon as possible to have your problem diagnosed, find the root cause, and receive treatment.
Depending upon the cause of dry mouth, your dentist might recommend different types of treatment. Common treatments for dry mouth include:
- Adjusting or changing medications that might be causing dry mouth
- Chewing gum or sucking sugar-free hard candies to stimulate saliva production
- Increased fluid intake
- Artificial saliva substitutes
- Medication that stimulates saliva production
These treatments can alleviate the often unpleasant symptoms of dry mouth and help protect your teeth from increased likelihood of decay. Don’t assume dry mouth is just an irritation—see our experienced dental team for diagnosis and treatment to keep your teeth healthy. Call 214-821-8639 for an appointment today.