Why Dry Mouth Can Hurt Your Oral Health

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can have serious consequences for your oral health, because it can facilitate the development of cavities, bad breath, and gum disease if not treated. Dry mouth can be so harmful because of the importance of saliva to your overall oral health. Though you may not realize it, moisture is one of your best defenses against many oral health problems. If you cannot generate enough saliva, there are several treatment options a dentist or doctor can prescribe.

Why You Need Saliva

Saliva is generated by your mouth glands, and contains mostly water. However, saliva also contains enzymes that can fight the bacteria in your mouth, which cause infection and disease.  Minerals like calcium and phosphate are also present to strengthen your tooth enamel. Among other things, saliva can:

  • Rinse food particles off your teeth
  • Increase your ability to taste foods
  • Help break down the food you eat
  • Aid in digestion

In addition, researchers have discovered that they can use saliva samples to test for certain diseases, such as HIV. They are researching whether they can use these samples to also test for certain cancers, diabetes, and gum disease.

Treatments for Xerostomia

Dry mouth can have many different causes, so how we treat it depends on the source of the condition. You can generally stimulate more moisture when you chew; doctors recommend chewing sugar free gum or sucking on sugar free candy between meals. Make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol can also alleviate symptoms of dry mouth.

If your symptoms persist, talk to your dentist or doctor to analyze the source of your symptoms, and potentially find a treatment. Some medicines cause dry mouth, so your physician may change your medication, if this is a possibility. We can treat severe cases with medication, like a rinse or moisturizer, if necessary.


As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.