Dental Implants: Pros and Cons

How Dry Mouth Can Lead to Tooth Cavities

by Brett Clark

If you find that you tend to suffer from dry mouth a lot, be aware that a dry mouth can have a negative impact on your teeth. The occasional bout of dry mouth isn't a serious problem. But if you regularly suffer from dry mouth, your teeth have a higher risk of developing cavities. 

Saliva protects your teeth and helps to prevent cavities. A dry mouth means little to no saliva, which can be bad news for your teeth. A dry mouth leads to cavities in several ways.

A dry mouth lacks the ability to kill harmful bacteria

Not many people know that saliva is your mouth's best defence against harmful oral bacteria. Saliva contains antibacterial compounds that attack and kill harmful species of bacteria. Compounds like lactoferrin and lysozymes attack and destroy harmful strains of bacteria. But if your mouth is dry most of the time, you'll lack saliva and have a weakened ability to combat bad bacteria.

A dry mouth will allow bad bacteria to flourish and form colonies on the surfaces of your teeth. The acid those bacterial organisms then produce will damage your tooth enamel and eventually cause cavity formation.

A dry mouth can't flush food particles from your mouth

Saliva is also an effective way to flush food particles from your mouth. Those particles then make their way to your stomach. If your mouth lacks saliva, food particles will cling to your teeth and gums, providing bad bacteria with a steady food supply.

A dry mouth cannot strengthen your teeth with minerals

Your saliva also contains useful minerals like calcium, phosphate and bicarbonate. These minerals help to strengthen your teeth and increase their defence against cavity-causing bacteria. If you produce too little saliva, your teeth won't receive the dose of minerals they need to remain in good condition. Weakened teeth will be at high risk for cavity development.

A dry mouth helps tooth decay-causing bacteria to flourish

A dry mouth is an ideal environment for harmful strains of oral bacteria like streptococcus mutans to flourish. Overnight, when you produce very little saliva, bacteria have a chance to increase their numbers. However, you can then deal with those bacteria by brushing and flossing in the morning.

If your mouth is always dry throughout the day, hours before your nightly oral hygiene session, bad oral bacteria can reproduce and flourish. This will put all of your teeth at risk of developing cavities.

If your mouth is always dry and you don't know why, you should see your dentist. They can examine your mouth to determine the cause of the problem.