There are few things that are worse for your oral health than dry mouth. This common condition is experienced by millions of Canadians each year and can lead to problems like cavities and gum disease.
Luckily, these problems aren’t inevitable. There are easy steps you can take to protect your teeth and gums from dry mouth and keep them in peak condition for as long as possible.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth can be caused by medical conditions or lifestyle factors. These include:
- Health problems. Conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and Sjögren’s syndrome can cause dry mouth.
- Chemotherapy and radiation. These cancer treatments can reduce the amount of saliva produced by your salivary glands, causing dry mouth. This problem often goes away once treatment is complete.
- Tobacco, alcohol, and drug use. Smoking, drinking, and using recreational drugs like marijuana can all dry out your mouth.
- Medications. Many medications, including common ones like antidepressants, can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
- Old age. Older people are more likely to experience dry mouth than younger people.
How It Hurts Your Oral Health
Dry mouth poses a major threat to both your teeth and gums. Having less saliva robs your teeth of its protective remineralizing effects, leaving them with no way to repair the damage done by the acids secreted by the bacteria in your mouth. You can mitigate this problem by brushing and rinsing more often, but even this won’t make up for a lack of saliva in the long run. There’s just no substitute for all of the minerals and pH-correcting effects that saliva offers.
Dry mouth also gives bacteria a chance to fester because there’s no saliva to wash it away. This not only puts your teeth at greater risk, but also threatens your gums. People with dry mouth are at high risk of developing periodontitis and bone loss, leading to a lost teeth, collapsed facial structure, and many other problems.
Solving the Problem
So what can you do about dry mouth? There are lots of things you can try to improve your condition.
- Sip more water. Water keeps your mouth hydrated and raises its pH, creating a safer environment for your teeth. It can also help wash away any food particles that get stuck in your mouth.
- Chew sugar-free gum. The act of chewing stimulates your salivary glands and moistens your mouth. Choose gum with xylitol in it for even more cavity-busting power.
- Suck on sugar-free candies. Doing this provides a similar effect to chewing gum.
- Use a mouthwash or mouth spray designed for dry mouth. These products are specifically formulated to help keep your mouth moist without harming your teeth and gums.
- Breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Mouth breathing contributes to dry mouth, so try to breathe through your nose as much as possible – especially when you’re sleeping.
Keep Your Teeth and Gums Safe from Dry Mouth
Good dental care is even more important when you have dry mouth. Our staff at Coscarella Dentistry can help you protect your oral health from the impact of this condition. Give us a call today at 519-969-8171 to book your next cleaning and dental exam and let us help you maintain good oral health for life.