Dry Mouth and Oral Health

Occasionally everyone experiences a dry mouth, it can happen at any time especially if you are feeling nervous or dehydrated.  Persistently having a dry mouth is known as xerostomia and results from inadequate saliva flow.  Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay.  It helps to wash away food, neutralize acids, and provides protection against microbial overgrowth.

What problems can dry mouth cause?

Since saliva plays such an important part in oral health, a dry mouth may cause a person to experience a number of issues, such as:

  • Difficulty speaking, eating or swallowing
  • Decreased or altered sense of taste
  • Dry lips
  • Burning sensations or soreness in mouth
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Recurrent mouth infections
  • Tooth decay and gum disease

What causes chronic dry mouth?

Chronic dry mouth (xerostomia) is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying issue or a side effect.  The following are the most common reasons for chronic dry mouth.

  • Dehydration – Lack of fluid in the body will reduce saliva production.
  • A Blocked Nose and/or Mouth Breathing – Constant mouth breathing due to a blocked nose can cause the mouth to dry out.
  • Medication – Many medications contribute to xerostomia.

What to do if you’ve experienced or are experiencing chronic dry mouth.

If you have been experiencing chronic dry mouth your dentist may recommend using an artificial saliva substitute.  Your dentist will also provide a thorough oral health exam to make sure that the dry mouth has not caused additional issues such as tooth decay or gum disease.


If you are concerned about the effects that chronic dry mouth may have on your oral health, call us at (772) 621-2492 to schedule an exam and oral health screening.

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