There are few things more uncomfortable than a dry mouth. It can make it hard to speak, impossible to swallow, and it might seem like you’re overly thirsty. If this happens just once in a while, it’s probably nothing to worry over excessively. You might just be slightly dehydrated, and the condition passes relatively quickly.
However, dry mouth can become a chronic condition, one which you repeatedly experience over time. In these instances, it is more than just an annoyance; it is a threat to your oral health.
Having a dry and uncomfortable mouth is also known as xerostomia. It most often occurs in older adults as salivary glands become less effective at producing the lubricating liquid. Many medications can induce the condition as well, so be sure to be aware of all the side effects of any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
How is dry mouth harmful to teeth?
It’s all about the saliva. In a healthy mouth, saliva coats the teeth, gums, and other soft tissue, providing a layer of “insulation.” When these surfaces dry out and become exposed to the air, they are more susceptible to decay-causing bacteria. Because of this factor, dry mouth may, in turn, cause bad breath (AKA halitosis) and increase the risk for cavities, tooth decay, and even periodontal disease.
How to prevent it.
The best way to prevent xerostomia is to stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, especially during the warm summer months. You can also chew sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production. Additionally, as the condition most often occurs at night, keep a glass of water close at hand on your bedside table. You can also choose to brush your teeth again to increase saliva flow.
If you still have trouble with a dry mouth, consult with your dentist or family doctor. We may recommend a change in medication or prescribe a special oral rinse to combat the condition.