Dry mouth occurs when there is not enough saliva in the mouth. A dry mouth is a symptom of an underlying problem, rather than a disease in itself. Causes may include drugs or medication, dehydration, mouth breathing, Sjogren's syndrome, infection, nerve problems and some cancer treatments. A dry mouth significantly increases the risk of tooth decay. This is because saliva:
- Contains components that can directly attack the bacteria that cause tooth decay
- Has anti-fungal properties
- Helps to destroy viruses
- Neutralises the acids produced by plaque
- Contains phosphorus and calcium. These substances are vital to the ongoing process of remineralisation, which is the rebuilding of tooth enamel (the hard surface layer that protects the tooth)
- Moistens food, which enables comfortable swallowing
- Helps with the formation of particular sounds in speech
- Boosts sensation such as pain, food texture and taste inside the mouth
What You Can Do to Prevent Dry Mouth
- Brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily.
- Regularly use fluoride-containing products.
- Treat dry lips with Vaseline.
- Take out partial or full dentures while you sleep.
- Eat chewy foods to stimulate the flow of saliva.
- Chew food thoroughly before swallowing.
- Include watery foods in your daily diet.
- Avoid acidic foods and beverages such as soft drinks, citrus fruits and citrus fruit juices to protect your tooth enamel.
- Restrict sugary foods and drinks.
- Avoid any substance that increase mouth dryness. These include cigarettes, alcohol, caffeinated drinks and spicy foods.
- Chew sugar-free gum between meals to promote the flow of saliva.
- Sip plain tap water often.
What North Road Dental Centre Can Do
- Having regular dental cleans and check-ups ensure that any problems to your teeth caused by your dry mouth can be promptly attended to.
- Advise you on a toothpaste, mouth-rinse or gel suitable for dry mouth syndrome.
- Provide you with dietary advice.