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Does Dry Mouth Lead to Tooth Decay?

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Did you know that those who suffer from dry mouth are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease?

Since the process of digestion begins in the mouth, saliva production is necessary to keep the pH level of the mouth from being too acidic. A lack of saliva can reduce the amount of protection your teeth have from cavities.

Dry mouth, known as xerostomia, can occur due to aging, taking prescription medications, cancer treatment, and many other causes. Reduced saliva production is dangerous to the tooth enamel as acid levels rise in the mouth. Even though enamel is the hardest substance in the body (even stronger than bone), high acid levels can cause it to dissolve, and as a result, tooth structure begins to weaken.

Symptoms of dry mouth include a parched, dry, or sticky feeling, excessive thirst, mouth sores or cracked corners of the mouth, dry throat, and a tingling or raw tongue.

There are remedies to increase saliva production, such as the use of products that contain xylitol. Xylitol is naturally-occuring and used as a sugar-free sweetener. The benefit to those who suffer from dry mouth is that xylitol “starves” the harmful bacteria in the mouth, and therefore reduces plaque buildup and tooth decay. Using products containing xylitol can help prevent dental cavities and gum disease. It is available in small concentrations in many consumer products such as toothpaste and mints.

If you suffer from dry mouth, contact our office at 757-340-8805 for a consultation. A prescription for 100% xylitol mints may work for you to start reducing your risk for tooth decay today.