If you suffer from dry mouth syndrome as a result of medication side effects, autoimmune disorders, or salivary gland dysfunction, then your oral health may be in jeopardy. At the first sign of dry mouth, it is essential that you make an appointment with your dentist for an examination and treatment. Here are some consequences dry mouth syndrome can have on your oral cavity.
High Risk For Periodontitis
Untreated dry mouth syndrome can raise your risk for a severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. Optimal salivary flow helps keep your mouth free from infections and cavities because it helps rinse away bacteria and other microorganisms from your mouth. When these microorganisms accumulate inside your oral cavity, you may develop gingivitis, which can lead to periodontitis if not recognized and treated quickly.
This form of gum disease not only causes red, inflamed, and bleeding gums, but it can also destroy your gum tissue, and in some cases, the underlying bone. If you develop periodontitis, dentist may refer you to a periodontist for further evaluation and treatment. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the gum tissue. Failure to treat periodontal disease may also result in systemic infections and tooth loss.
Chewing And Swallowing Difficulties
If your salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva, mastication may be impaired. If you are unable to chew your food effectively, you may be at risk for choking. This can be especially problematic if you have neurological deficits, suffered a stroke, have acid reflux disease, or have chronically inflamed tonsils.
If a lack of salivary flow prevents you from effectively chewing or swallowing your food, be sure to take frequent sips of water in between bites of food. This will help break down large pieces of food so that you don't choke. If you have a dry mouth, see your dentist. He or she can prescribe a lubricating mouthwash that will help moisten your oral tissues while promoting natural salivary flow.
If your mouth is still dry despite your dentist's interventions, see your primary physician to rule out autoimmune disorders or medication side effects. Medications that can lead to a dry mouth include antihistamines, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, beta blockers, and anti-anxiety medications. If the medication doses are decreased, or if your doctor discontinues the medications altogether, an optimal pattern of salivary flow will once again be reestablished.