Can Dry Mouth Lead to Tooth Decay?


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There are many things that can cause dry mouth. From medications to mouth breathing to dehydration, people often don’t stop and consider the harmful effects of having a dry mouth. The truth is that having a dry mouth is hugely damaging to your smile. Our teeth are meant to be constantly bathed in saliva for a reason! Here’s how dry mouth can lead to tooth decay.

Saliva Stops Harmful Acids

When our mouths are in their normal resting state, the lips are closed and we breathe through our nose. This allows saliva to be present in the mouth and keep all the teeth moist and protected. When you suffer from dry mouth whether it’s the result of a medication, frequent mouth breathing, or not drinking enough water, saliva production is impacted.

Your saliva keeps the pH of your mouth neutral and therefore stops harmful acids from affecting your teeth. These acids are often produced by consumption of certain acidic foods such as sugar, and they can attack your tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay.

Dry Mouth Erodes Tooth Enamel

Your dry mouth is directly impacting your tooth enamel. Enamel protects your teeth from bacteria and cavities that can eat away at the tooth. When we have adequate saliva in our mouths, the saliva acts as a buffer between any harmful acids or bacteria and our enamel. This means enamel is much less likely to be impacted when saliva is present. When saliva is lacking, tooth enamel stands a greater chance of being eroded. There’s no buffer, so the enamel is directly exposed to bacteria that could slowly erode the enamel. After your tooth enamel is gone, there’s no replacing it and tooth sensitivity and decay often result.

Saliva Keeps Plaque and Bacteria Away

Saliva helps to balance bacteria that help us chew, speak, and swallow. Without saliva, our mouths have a more difficult time functioning. Food is more difficult to chew, meaning larger particles or more particles may get stuck in our mouths. Saliva usually helps remove these food particles and prevents them from making a home in between our teeth and causing decay later on.

Your saliva also plays an important role in stopping bad breath. When bacteria are balanced, plaque is less likely to stick to teeth and attack the tooth enamel. This also means you have fresher breath in addition to a healthier smile! Bad breath is often a sign of gum disease, so check with your dentist if you’re noticing any changes.

Dry mouth may appear innocent on the surface, but this condition is much more damaging to teeth than people think. If you suspect you have dry mouth, visit your doctor or dentist to find out what the problem is. In the meantime, sip on water as often as possible and try not to breathe through your mouth. Getting the cause of dry mouth addressed is essential to having a healthy smile for the future!

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Can Dry Mouth Lead to Tooth Decay?
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Dry mouth may appear innocent on the surface, but this condition is much more damaging to teeth than people think. If you suspect you have dry mouth, visit your doctor or dentist to find out what the problem is.

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Sowmya Kanumilli
Sowmya Kanumilli

Dr. Sowmya Kanumilli is an experienced family and cosmetic dentist in Aldie, Virginia. For more information on Dr. Kanumilli, visit www.aldiedentist.com.

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