Do you constantly drink water to eliminate a stickiness in your mouth? Does your throat feel scratchy? Do you have difficulty chewing or swallowing? Does your saliva feel thick? If any of these sound familiar, you may have a condition known as dry mouth.
Having a dry mouth is not just a nuisance. It is a condition that can cause damage to your mouth and soft tissues. There are several reasons why you might have dry mouth. Most of them are due to the effects of some medications. Regardless of the reasons, it is both unpleasant and potentially dangerous for your oral health.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth is a condition where your mouth does not create enough saliva. Specifically, the salivary glands do not work as intended. Whether you know it or not, saliva is incredibly important to your oral health.
Think of your mouth as its own environment. There is a delicate balance for it to remain healthy. In this environment, there are good and bad bacteria. Saliva works to neutralize harmful bacteria and remineralize your teeth. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria consume the sugar, producing an acid that eats your enamel and removes essential minerals. Saliva helps minimize the damage and restore lost minerals. Additionally, it keeps the bad bacteria from multiplying.
When your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, your mouth becomes dry. This is because bacteria thrive in a dry environment. As they multiply, they create more and more plaque and damage the protective enamel. Therefore, dry mouth is essential to your oral health.
Why Treat It?
Dry mouth increases your chances of tooth decay, gum disease, and other health complications.
Because bacteria thrive in a dry environment, the number of bacteria in your mouth can get out of control. This means that you are much more likely to develop tooth decay. When there are more bacteria, there is more plaque in your mouth.
With more plaque, there is an increased chance of gum disease. Gum disease is a condition that affects the gums. Plaque irritates the gums, causing an infection. Unfortunately, plaque can develop underneath the gum line, making it difficult to remove.
In addition, a lack of saliva can make it hard to chew, swallow or speak. When you eat, your teeth will physically break down food. However, you need saliva to help chemically break the food down. In addition, there are enzymes in saliva that aid in the digestive process. Therefore, saliva is vital to help you swallow your food.
One way to stimulate saliva production is to chew sugar-free gum. Also, you could suck on sugar-free hard candies. However, sugar can help dry out your mouth, so it is best to avoid it when you can.
Drinking water throughout the day can help reduce the feeling of dry mouth. It will also stimulate your salivary gland.
Your dentist can make recommendations for mouthwash. Some types of mouthwash are specifically designed for people with dry mouths. These can also help protect your teeth against tooth decay and gum disease.