If you have a chronically dry mouth, then you have a condition called xerostomia. Dry mouth problems can be problematic when it comes to bad breath and general discomfort. The issue can also lead to cavities. If you are concerned about cavities, then keep reading to understand how a dry mouth can cause them and also how the problem can be treated.
How Does Dry Mouth Cause Cavities?
Saliva in the oral cavity has a variety of different functions. It helps to lubricate the mouth to make you feel comfortable. It also mixes with your food to break down food more quickly, and it allows you to swallow easily. Saliva also helps to fight off bacteria and protect the tooth enamel.
Bacteria are the microorganisms in the mouth that cause dental decay. Bacteria feed off sugars and carbohydrates that stick to the teeth and they release acids afterwards. These acids cling to the enamel and break down the minerals that keep your teeth intact and well protected. Saliva works to wash away the acids before they can harm the teeth. The fluid also rinses away some of the bacteria so that fewer acids are produced in the mouth.
Not only does saliva rinse away acids and the bacteria that cause cavities, but it forces the carbohydrates from the teeth that allow bacteria to feed. Without the benefits of saliva, bacterial activity can go on completely unchecked and cavities can start to develop.
How Can Dry Mouth Be Treated?
Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of different things. Many different medications list dry mouth as a side effect, so speak with your physician or dentist about this possibility. Medications can sometimes be reduced or changed to reduce side effects.
In some cases, your salivary glands may not be working as well as they should. This may be the result of a cancer treatment or an autoimmune disorder. This is also something that should be discussed with a medical professional.
If no cause is located, then your salivary glands may just produce less saliva than usual. If this is the case, then you will need to avoid things that can cause your dry mouth condition to worsen. Tobacco products, alcohol, and caffeine should be avoided. You also should limit the amount of spicy foods and sugary treats you consume. You also should sip on a cup of water throughout the day and rinse your mouth thoroughly after eating. When you go to bed at night, then turn on a humidifier to keep the air moist. For more information, contact a local dentist.