Your dry mouth and bad breath symptoms may share a link with gingivitis.
Chronic dry mouth and halitosis (bad breath) are two fairly common oral health issues that patients bring up to their dentists. Chronic dry mouth is uncomfortable and inconvenient, and bad breath is something that no one wants to deal with at all.
If you find yourself struggling with dry mouth or bad breath, you should be aware that a third oral health problem may also be present—gingivitis.
How are chronic dry mouth and halitosis connected?
Chronic dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs when normal saliva production slows down, leaving the mouth drier than what’s considered optimal for oral health.
There are a number of factors that can cause chronic dry mouth to occur. These include:
- Medication side effects
- Existing health conditions
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Frequent vomiting
- Chronic stress or anxiety disorders
- Chronic dehydration and lack of nutrition
So why is xerostomia detrimental to oral health in particular?
Well, saliva production is crucial for a healthy oral biome. Without proper saliva production, healthy tooth enamel and gum tissue begin to weaken.
When tooth enamel and gum tissue are dehydrated, your chances of developing tooth decay and gum disease skyrocket. You are at a much higher risk of cavities, gingivitis (gum inflammation), and eventual periodontitis (severe gum disease). You’re also very likely to experience bad breath.
One of the most important functions of saliva is flushing away bad bacteria.
Saliva is responsible for flushing away food debris and bacteria from your teeth and gums. It also neutralizes the acids that bad bacteria produce—the very same acids that eat away at tooth enamel.
Without proper saliva flow in the mouth, food debris, bacteria, and subsequent acids are left on the surfaces of the teeth and gums. Over time decay and gum disease eventually occur, and halitosis is likely present due to the high bacteria and acidity levels in the mouth. This is why many dentists’ first question when you ask about your bad breath is “Do you experience dry mouth?”
How does bad breath correlate with gingivitis?
Dry mouth leads to halitosis as well as increased risk of gingivitis and gum disease. But what if you have bad breath yet don’t experience dry mouth? Your halitosis may instead be a red flag of underlying gingivitis.
Chronic bad breath means bacteria are lurking in your smile.
Dry mouth can easily lead to bad breath, and sometimes bad breath is an independent issue. However, if you do experience halitosis—even without dry mouth—it means there is an unhealthy level of bacteria present in your mouth.
Your mouth always has bacteria present. We naturally have healthy bacteria present in our smiles, and even a healthy smile will have a small number of bad bacteria. When optimal oral health is achieved, this bad bacteria is kept in control and doesn’t pose a concern. But if you have poor oral hygiene, xerostomia, or similar oral health challenges, these bad bacteria levels will rise.
Bacteria often live in and around the gums.
Bad bacteria tend to congregate in the small nooks and crannies around your teeth. These spots are usually right in between the teeth along the gum line. A combination of plaque buildup and bacteria ends up irritating the gums, causing inflammation and gingivitis.
Gingivitis is the precursor to gum disease, or periodontitis, and is characterized by a state of chronic gum inflammation. Unless the gingivitis is treated by removing the bacteria and plaque, an infection may set in. Once the gums become infected, gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis.
How to treat dry mouth, halitosis, and gingivitis.
Treating this trio of oral health problems begins by reaching out to your dentist. Here at Duvall Dental Center, Dr. Tyler takes a gentle but effective approach to getting these issues under control as quickly as possible.
If You’re Experiencing Dry Mouth
Dr. Tyler will discuss your oral and medical health histories to determine if there is a clear cause. In some cases, the cause may not be immediately evident, or it might be unavoidable, such as the case with important medications.
In these situations, Dr. Tyler will help you find ways to manage your dry mouth symptoms. We offer professional oral care products, including CTx4 Gel and a line of CariFree products. We also recommend Dr. John’s candies, XyliMelts, and Spry gum or mints to help encourage healthy saliva flow.
If You’re Experiencing Halitosis
Dr. Tyler will work toward finding the underlying cause of your halitosis and why bad bacteria are blooming. From there he will create a personalized treatment plan to eliminate or control the symptoms you’re experiencing.
In the case of halitosis caused by dry mouth, Dr. Tyler will find solutions that not only encourage saliva but also address concerns of bad breath.
If You’re Experiencing Gingivitis
Dr. Tyler offers periodontal therapy for patients suffering from gingivitis and gum disease. Periodontal therapy is a specialized form of deep dental cleaning designed to remove all plaque and bad bacteria from the gum pockets surrounding the teeth. This combined with improving at-home oral hygiene and treating related dry mouth will help get your gingivitis under control before it becomes periodontitis.
Get relief from your dry mouth and bad breath by booking a consultation.
You can schedule your appointment with Dr. Tyler today by calling our Duvall, WA office or filling out our quick online form.