Can dry mouth cause tooth decay?

Dry mouth can increase your risk of developing tooth decay. While many patients consider tooth decay a concern that mainly affects children and young adults, the truth is that many patients experience increased rates of tooth decay later on in life. A leading cause of adult tooth decay is the onset of dry mouth.

Arlington Heights, IL general dentist Dr. Brent Engelberg recommends that adults and seniors continue to visit their dentist twice a year for routine cleanings and wellness check-ups. Routine dental health exams can help Dr. Engelberg catch the signs of dry mouth early on preventing the development of secondary issues such as cavities or gum disease.

What causes dry mouth?

Dry mouth can be caused by a number of factors. The most basic cause of dry mouth is dehydration. Other factors include certain health conditions, the use of some medications, or an issue with your salivary glands. Drastic changes in your hormone levels, like pregnancy or menopause, may also cause dry mouth, and an increased risk of tooth decay.

Have you recently started a new medication?

Did you know that nearly 500 medications list dry mouth as a common side effect? 

If you have recently started taking a new prescription or take allergy medication, be sure to let your dentist know. Many common prescriptions and over the counter drugs include dry mouth as a side effect. Knowing your risk of dry mouth can help you take the steps to prevent the development of dental concerns associated with the condition.

Do I have dry mouth?

Dry mouth is commonly diagnosed when patients complain of their mouths feeling dry, sticky, or of having chronic halitosis. Dry mouth can be uncomfortable and may begin to frustrate patients who are unaware of their condition. Without a good healthy saliva flow, bacteria begin to build and can cause smelly breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.

If your mouth feels dry or scratchy, try drinking more water throughout your day. If drinking water still does not resolve your dry mouth be sure to tell your dentist or physician of your condition. Dr. Engelberg can make personalized recommendations on which mouthwashes or other oral health products to use to help combat the symptoms of dry mouth.

Routine dental health exams are the best way to prevent the secondary dental health concerns associated with dry mouth. Always be sure to share any lifestyle changes or medication changes with your dentist so that they are able to provide the most informed advice possible.