Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a state where there is a lack of saliva flow in your mouth. Dry mouth has many causes, and it’s sometimes possible to treat it or at least make it more comfortable. Saliva is important to keep your mouth moist and your teeth clean. It neutralizes acids produced by dental plaque and gets rid of dead cells that accumulate on the gums, cheeks and tongue. Saliva also prevents infection by reducing the number of bacteria and fungi in your mouth. And when it comes to nutrition, saliva helps to digest food by making it soft.
There are a few problems that may arise from dry mouth:
- The risk of having gum disease increases with dry mouth.
- The risk of tooth decay also increases because saliva limits bacteria growth and does a partial cleaning of food debris and dental plaque.
- Saliva improves the ability to taste and swallow foods. Moreover, enzymes contained in saliva help to digest these foods. Xerostomia therefore compromises eating because it reduces the ability to appreciate foods and to digest them.
- Dry mouth can also make it difficult to dentures and partials because contact on dry gums is difficult, and can also be painful.