The salivary glands make saliva. On average, we produce 2 to 4 pints of saliva daily. When the amount of saliva is too low, it can lead to dry mouth (xerostomia). Some diseases and medications can interfere with the amount of saliva the body makes. Or dehydration can cause it. An underlying condition may cause chronic dry mouth. The team at Dentistry by Angela Britt wants you to know about the role of saliva in oral health.
The Role of Saliva
Saliva contains substances to fight against decay-causing bacteria. It rinses away plaque, bacteria, acids, and food debris. Saliva has antifungal properties, helps remineralize enamel, and assists with the formation of certain sounds. Also, it allows us to enjoy the tastes and textures of our food. When saliva production is decreased, it can lead to dry mouth.
Causes of Dry Mouth
There are a variety of reasons for dry mouth, such as cancer therapy, medications, aging, and nerve damage to the head or neck. Medical conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune diseases, can cause a dry mouth.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth
The symptoms of dry mouth include thick and stringy saliva; bad breath; altered sense of taste; problems chewing, swallowing, or talking; hoarseness; and difficulty wearing dentures. Also, mouth sores, a burning sensation in the mouth, and lips that are dry and cracked.
Dry Mouth Complications
Chronic dry mouth can lead to acids remaining on the teeth too long and wearing away enamel. Dry mouth sets the stage for a buildup of plaque, bacteria, and food debris, which can cause tooth decay. It also increases the risk of gum disease and thrush (oral yeast infection).
Saliva has a vital role in oral health. To help saliva production, drink plenty of water and limit the consumption of caffeine and alcohol. Use a mouthwash that does not contain alcohol, and chew gum containing xylitol.
For most people, dry mouth is temporary. But, if you’re experiencing chronic dry mouth, you can get help to identify the underlying cause. When was your last dental visit? Contact our office to schedule an appointment. We serve patients in Brunswick, Georgia, and the surrounding areas.