5 dangers of dry mouth
Feeling parched? Need a refreshing drink? We are all familiar with that sensation of mouth dryness that occurs with thirst on hot days or after a workout. Dry mouth, however, is a state of profound mouth dryness that persists despite adequate hydration. This medical condition is also referred to as xerostomia.
The causes of dry mouth include any number of drugs or diseases that reduce the production of saliva. The discomfort of dry mouth is the least concerning aspect of this condition. Without treatment for dry mouth, the condition increases the risk for several more severe medical conditions, discussed below.
Gingivitis and periodontitis occur as a result of excess bacteria accumulating in the mouth. These forms of gum disease can be prevented by good oral hygiene including brushing and flossing. Saliva is another important tool in the prevention of gum disease. The enzymes naturally present in saliva, along with the rinsing and washing effect of its movement through the mouth, help to remove bacterial build-up between brushings. Dry mouth decreases this protective action, making the mouth more susceptible to the development of gum disease.
In addition to protecting the gums, adequate saliva flow helps to prevent the bacterial degradation of the teeth. If the teeth roots have become exposed by gum disease, the surface area at which bacteria can cause tooth decay is further increased. In addition to poor oral hygiene, untreated dry mouth is an important risk factor for the development of tooth decay. Xerostomia has been estimated to contribute to 30 per cent of all cases of tooth decay in older adults.
Candidiasis, commonly known as a yeast infection, can occur in the mouth due to decreased immune defenses. Acting as a type of defense against the accumulation of pathogenic organisms in the mouth, saliva helps to prevent infections such as oral candidiasis. Symptoms of this fungal infection include the appearance of a white coating on the tongue or mouth and a burning or tingling sensation of the throat and mouth.
Mouth Sores & Cracked Lips
Saliva helps to keep the whole mouth moist and protected, including the lips. Insufficient saliva production increases the risk of developing cracks of the lips, a condition known as chelitis. This painful condition can additionally be accompanied by the development of sores in the mouth, sometimes referred to as canker sores. Unpleasant under any circumstances, chelitis and canker sores can become distressingly painful in the setting of xerostomia.
Gum disease, tooth decay, fungal infections, mouth sores and cracked lips can all contribute to mouth pain and discomfort. These conditions, along with insufficient saliva, can make chewing and eating significantly more difficult. This limits the types and quantities of food that appear edible and increases the risk of poor nutrition. Proper nutrition is essential for good oral health as well as overall health and well being.
Relief from dry mouth
While intended to informative, this article cannot take the place of professional medical advice. If you or someone you care for is suffering from dry mouth, please visit a dental professional near you.
Consider choosing Alabama Family Dentistry for all your oral health and hygiene services. Alabama Family Dentistry has four locations in the Birmingham area; Warrior Family Dentistry, Acton Road Family Dentistry, Gardendale Family Dentistry and Sumitron Family Dentistry. Call today to find out how Alabama Family Dentistry can help you recover from whatever dental condition is keeping your smile from being its brightest.