Having a dry mouth can be uncomfortable. With less saliva in your mouth, you may have trouble swallowing food or drink. Whatever the cause, dry mouth can disrupt your life in many noticeable ways.
You may not know that dry mouth can also have negative effects on your oral health. If dry mouth – also called xerostomia – goes on for too long without treatment, it can cause severe problems like tooth decay and more.
If you occasionally or often struggle with dry mouth, it is essential to know how this condition affects your oral health and what you can do about it.
What is saliva, and what does it do?
You probably don’t think very much about your saliva. That is until you stop having enough. Like other important functions, our bodies produce saliva automatically. When your salivary glands are working properly, they should produce between 0.5 and 1.5 liters of saliva every day.
Saliva is made up of three components: water, electrolytes and other organic compounds. Water makes up most of the volume of saliva. The electrolytes in saliva include:
Your saliva can also contain things like enzymes, mucins and proteins. All of these elements come together to make a very important substance for your body.
Saliva helps you:
- Protect against acid in food and drink
- Break down and swallow food
- Fight the bacteria that causes plaque
- Keep your mouth free of harmful bacteria and fungi
- Fight off infections
As you can see, saliva serves many essential purposes in the body. When an illness or medication causes you to produce less saliva than you need, it can have harmful effects on your mouth and more.
What happens when you don’t have enough saliva
Several problems can make it hard for your body to produce enough saliva. Dry mouth is a side effect of many medications and a symptom of several illnesses. Furthermore, you can get dry mouth from simply not drinking enough water.
If it happens just once, dry mouth can be uncomfortable. You may have trouble swallowing. Your lips may feel dry and even cracked. You may notice that the saliva that you do have feels sticky. Sometimes, dry mouth causes bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
If dry mouth continues for longer, you can have all the same negative effects and more. Over time, dry mouth can cause serious problems such as:
- Gum disease
- Mouth sores
- Tooth decay
- Burning sensations on the tongue
- Thrush and other oral infections
If you experience dry mouth, it’s important to talk to your dentist about possible causes and treatments.
Get dental care in Midtown, NYC
The treatment for dry mouth depends on the cause. For example, if it is a side effect of a medication, you may need to talk to your prescribing doctor about what you can do. Sometimes, you cannot change the cause, but there are things you can do to mitigate the problem. Talk to your dentist about helpful solutions.
If you’re struggling with dry mouth, the friendly professionals at Midtown Dental Care Associates can help. Contact us at 212.685.4730 to schedule your appointment and learn more about dry mouth. We’re conveniently located between Grand Central Terminal and the New York Public Library (Bryant Park) on 41st Street.