When your salivary glands do not produce much saliva, your mouth gets uncomfortable and dry. Saliva is critical to us; it helps us digest food and cleanse our mouths.
It also prevents bacterial and fungal infections. Nearly 20% of American seniors experience dry mouth. However, it often occurs as a medication side effect or medical condition symptom. To avoid dental problems, getting to understand dry mouth is very important.
Dry mouth, also referred to as xerostomia, takes place when there is a failure to produce enough saliva by the salivary glands. Most people have possibly dealt with a dry mouth occasionally, but it can lead to severe dental damages when it occurs as a constant problem and should not be ignored. The treatment of dry mouth focusses on three areas: preventing tooth decay, increasing the flow of saliva, and managing underlying medical conditions propelling the dry mouth.
Who is at Risk? Having too many sugary and starchy foods and drinks is one of the main risk factors of tooth decay. People who do not have enough saliva due to medical issues or certain diseases like anemia, depression, and HIV/AIDS are at risk. Toddlers and babies who regularly use bottles to drink juice before bedtime are also at risk. This is because their teeth are exposed to sugar for an extended time. Moreover, older adults experience receding gums and wear on their teeth. This increases the chances of decay.
Dry Mouth and Tooth Loss
According to research conducted by the Oral Cancer Foundation, 30% of all tooth decay present in older adults is dry-mouth related. The saliva present in our mouth reduces plaque and washes away food debris. If left untreated, dry mouth can lead to gum disease and severe tooth decay. If the tooth decay is not treated early, it develops dental caries (cavities), which will lead to pain, infection, and, eventually, the loss of the tooth.
To prevent tooth decay, make sure you're flossing your teeth daily, brushing your teeth twice a day, and visit us for regular checkups. Make sure to book an appointment with us to get your routine dental examination or to have any of your questions answered.
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