Most people have dealt with dry mouth from time to time, but when dry mouth is a constant, chronic problem, it can lead to severe dental damage and should not go untreated. General dentistry treatments are highly effective at treating and preventing dental damage, helping to maintain a vibrant, healthy smile. To find out which treatments for dry mouth and dental damage are right for you, schedule a consultation with Wilmington, DE dentists Paul E. Brown, Christopher S. Baran, and Mark B. Brown.
Dry Mouth and Dental Damage
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs when the salivary glands fail to produce sufficient amounts of saliva. For some, dry mouth is a temporary condition caused by dehydration or breathing dry air, while others may find it to be a chronic problem. When dry mouth happens on a regular basis, it may be caused by an underlying issue, like a salivary gland infection or diabetes.
Dry mouth can cause oral health problems as a result of decreased saliva production. Saliva is an important component of oral health. Saliva provides a natural defense against acid erosion by neutralizing acids within the mouth, washing away food debris, and restoring minerals to the teeth. When an insufficient amount of saliva is produced and dry mouth regularly occurs, it can cause serious oral health issues, including:
- Gum disease: Gum disease is a common complication of dry mouth. Caused by a bacterial infection from plaque and tartar buildup at the gums, gum disease is dangerous to oral health because it increases the risk of tooth decay, allowing decay to reach the tooth roots. Gum disease may even spread to the structures supporting the teeth, resulting in loose teeth and tooth loss.
- Tooth decay: Dry mouth allows harmful acids, plaque, and food remnants to stay on the teeth, often resulting in tooth decay.
- Enamel erosion: Acids left on the teeth as a result of dry mouth can lead to enamel erosion, a loss of the protective layer of the teeth. As the enamel erodes, the teeth are left vulnerable to tooth decay and root canal infection.
- Dental staining: Dry mouth increases the risk of dental staining and discoloration as a result of enamel erosion and increased levels of plaque and food debris on the teeth.
Alleviating Dry Mouth and Treating Dental Damage
Fortunately there are a variety of treatments available to restore the health and appearance of teeth damaged by dry mouth. Although treatment will depend on the type and extent of damage, some possible options include tooth-colored fillings, dental crowns, and gum treatments, like root planing and scaling, to reverse gum disease. You can help prevent damage and alleviate dry mouth by:
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Using an over-the-counter saliva substitute
- Chewing sugar-free gum to encourage saliva production
- Adding moisture to dry air with a humidifier
- Brushing and flossing multiple times a day to prevent damage from plaque and acid exposure
Which Treatments Are Right for You?
At Brown and Baran Family Dentistry, we offer a wide range of treatments to address the dental care needs of every patient. To find out which treatments are right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation today.