Dry mouth, which is referred to medically as xerostomia, is a condition in which the mouth is unable to produce a healthy amount of saliva. It’s a fairly common issue, but few understand how important it is to talk to their dentist about dry mouth. Here are just a few serious conditions it can lead to.
People tend to underestimate the importance of saliva. Aside from washing away food particles, it contains minerals and compounds that help combat plaque and bacteria. Additionally, it takes longer to chew food without plenty of saliva to break things down and keep the mouth moist, which means your teeth will be subject to excessive wear. Without a healthy flow of saliva, you’ll be at far greater risk of developing tooth decay.
If you’ve started to notice that your breath isn’t quite as fresh as it used to be, dry mouth could be the cause. The neutralizing acids found in saliva prevent bacteria from forming, and you need it to wash away the dead cells that can accumulate across the tongue, gums, and cheeks. Those cells start to decompose quite quickly – if you don’t get rid of them, unpleasant breath can be the result.
When the mouth is dry, the skin around the lips starts to crack. It’s something most of us have experienced when we become dehydrated. When someone suffers from chronic dry mouth, areas inside the mouth can also crack. Given the increase of bacteria, cracking skin can easily lead to the development of oral sores.
Thrush is caused by bacteria known as candida fungus. It’s a condition people tend to associate with slightly more intimate areas than the mouth, but it can occur here too. In fact, your mouth already contains candida fungus. That’s fine when a healthy flow of saliva is keeping the bacteria in check. If it isn’t, oral thrush becomes more likely. This is even more serious than it sounds – thrush can spread to other parts of the body, including the heart and lungs.