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What Is Dry Mouth and How Can it Affect You?

What exactly is dry mouth? Basically, your mouth requires saliva in order to function properly. Saliva helps to moisten your mouth and helps to breaks down the food you eat and keeps your gums healthy. It also serves as a strong cleanser.

It's always washing around your mouth and even teeth, battling bacteria, and helping to maintain your dental health. Without saliva, you run the risk of dental decay and gum disease. Saliva also produces nitric oxide, which works to fight infection and stop tooth decay before it begins. Without the correct levels of saliva, you run the risk of having an improper diet, or not getting enough sleep, which both weakens your immune system and creates an environment that is ideal for bacteria to grow in your mouth. That's when your dental team notices something isn't quite right.

There are two common effects of a dry mouth: bad breath and tooth decay. In addition, there are many other potential problems, but these two issues take precedence when you have an abnormal level of saliva. Saliva production is different for everyone, but most have normal saliva levels. If your saliva production is too low or too high, you may want to consult with your dental team to find out what you can do to correct it.

So how can you tell if you have a dry mouth? You can't always tell. Sometimes you'll wonder whether you've eaten something or drank something and you immediately have a dry taste in your mouth or feel happy inside your cheeks. Other times you might think you've chewed gum but the taste isn't really there or your gums feel a little tender. Either way, if you're concerned about the dry mouth or you've noticed a link to halitosis or tooth decay, it's important to speak with your dentist right away.

The reason your breath and your gums feel dry is that the production of saliva has stopped or slowed significantly. The saliva production is especially low during the night, which is why people wake up with a dry mouth. This isn't only uncomfortable; it's also unhealthy. Dentists have a number of methods for dealing with dry mouth, including tooth decay prevention and the use of mouthwash.

One of the simplest things you can do for dental health is a daily saliva cleaning routine. Visit the dentist every six months or so for a professional cleaning and checkup. After the cleaning, your dentist will have you fill out a dental form describing the type of oral hygiene you practice, including any changes you have seen in your mouth, such as the dry mouth. That information will be used to design a regular oral hygiene program for you to follow to prevent tooth decay or gum disease.

A more extreme example of dry mouth is emphysema. While this condition can last for several years, it usually clears up after it is treated. In addition to dry mouth, emphysema causes teeth to become sensitive to hot and cold. This sensitivity can lead to a buildup of plaque in your teeth. Plaque is one of the precursors to tooth decay and gum disease.

If you think you might be suffering from a dry mouth, talk to your dentist about it. He or she will help you come up with a plan to restore your oral health. You might need to invest in a new brush or toothpaste. It's important to brush regularly, especially before bedtime. You might also want to consider taking a special supplement that contains all-natural ingredients. Taking a good oral care supplement can give you the nutrients you need without the harmful dry mouth effects of floss, mouthwash, or tea. 

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