Dry mouth is a surprisingly common cause of tooth decay. Without saliva to wash food particles away from teeth, bring dissolved minerals into contact with tooth enamel to rebuild and strengthen it, and raise the pH of the oral environment after eating to keep acid damage at bay, the risk of tooth decay rises rapidly. It’s an uncomfortable condition and one that risks your long-term relationship with your teeth.
Given how important healthy saliva flow is to your teeth, it’s vital to avoid the top 3 dry mouth fails that leave you at risk for painful tooth decay.
Fail #1- Ignoring your medication warnings
Many medications carry the risk of dry mouth, and it is one of the most commonly reported side effects of numerous medications used to treat numerous conditions including high blood pressure, seasonal allergies, depression, and many other common and uncommon conditions.
While it may be possible to switch to a medication without dry mouth as a side effect, you may need to continue the medication for your overall health. If you take a medication that causes dry mouth, it’s important to treat the dry mouth. Rinses, sprays, gum, and staying well hydrated can all help prevent tooth decay and discomfort associated with dry mouth.
Fail #2- Ignoring dry mouth causing conditions
As if it weren’t bad enough that medication used to treat common health conditions can cause dry mouth, some medical conditions themselves are a dry mouth culprit. Autoimmune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis which attack the body’s natural saliva producing glands are common culprits. Even though we tend to think of them as conditions of the mind, stress, anxiety, and depression also can have dry mouth as a physical side effect.
Visiting your health care professionals, both dental and general, can help you identify or narrow doesn’t physiologic sources of dry mouth. Treatment for those conditions will generally involve treatment of dry mouth with good hydration and the same types of oral care products that alleviate medication-caused dry mouth.
Fail #3- Treating dry morning mouth the wrong way, or not treating it at all
You read that sugar-free candies can help alleviate dry mouth symptoms. But, you don’t like the taste of sugar-free candies, so you just eat the sugar-containing kind instead. Candy is candy, right? In the case of oral health, not so.
It’s important not to use sugary candy or drink juice and soda to treat your dry mouth. The bacteria that cause cavities feast on the carbohydrates from those foods. Your efforts to improve your oral health will, quite possibly, make it much worse.
Oral care products should be selected with care, too. Rinses and sprays that contain significant amounts of alcohol actually will make your mouth dryer after use instead of hydrating it and providing relief of dry mouth.
Obviously, avoiding tooth decay is an important long term goal when treating dry mouth. Avoid these top three fails to help keep your mouth happy and your teeth strong and rooted.