Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a condition in which the salivary glands fail to produce an adequate amount of saliva. At best, dry mouth is simply a bit of a nuisance; at worse, it can lead to serious oral health problems. At Smiles for Life Dental Care, our dentists offer a wide range of restorative dentistry services to address dental damage caused by dry mouth, helping our patients enjoy the confidence of a beautiful, healthy smile.
If you would like to find out more about treatment for dental problems and dry mouth, please contact our practice near Harrisonburg, VA to schedule a consultation with Dr. Joe McIntyre, Dr. Dan Whiting, or Dr. Kelsey Rockey. In the meantime, let's take a moment to consider some common dental problems associated with dry mouth.
The enamel is the hard, outer layer of the teeth. It protects the teeth from decay and other damage, but regular exposure to acid, bacteria, sugars, and plaque can erode the enamel over time. Dry mouth is a significant contributing factor to enamel erosion. Saliva helps wash away bacteria, food remnants, and acids from the teeth and mouth, as well as replenish minerals within the enamel. When saliva production is reduced, these harmful materials are left on the teeth, increasing the risk of enamel erosion.
Tooth decay occurs from a buildup of plaque on the teeth, specifically from the bacteria living in plaque. These bacteria feed off of sugars and other food debris and excrete acid. Over time, the acids from bacteria will begin to erode the enamel and eventually cause tooth decay. Dry mouth allows plaque to quickly collect on the teeth, greatly increasing the risk of tooth decay.
Gum disease is another common oral health problem associated with dry mouth. Gum disease is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar buildup. In the early stages of gum disease, the gums may bleed while brushing and flossing or may be swollen or tender.
If left untreated, gum disease may progress to periodontitis, which is recognized by the formation of pockets between the gums and teeth. These pockets allow plaque, bacteria, and acids to reach structures of the tooth below the gum line, leaving these delicate areas of the tooth vulnerable to tooth decay. Gum disease may even spread to the tissues and structures that support the teeth, increasing the risk of tooth loss.
As described previously, dry mouth can leave behind food debris, plaque, and acids on the teeth. Regular and prolonged exposure to plaque, food remnants, and acids cause the teeth to become stained and discolored. Certain foods, such as red wine, coffee, and tomato sauce, increase the risk of tooth discoloration, especially for those with dry mouth. Smoking and tobacco use can also cause the teeth to rapidly discolor for those who suffer from dry mouth.
Tooth loss may occur as a result of tooth decay or gum disease caused by dry mouth. If tooth decay is left untreated, the affected tooth may become so severely damaged that it will die and fall out on its own or require extraction. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss as a result of damage to the structures that support the teeth, such as the gums and jawbone.
Schedule a Consultation
If you suffer from dry mouth and suspect you have developed dental problems, you are encouraged to schedule a consultation with our team at Smiles for Life Dental Care to find out which treatments are right for you.