A Dry Mouth Can Contribute To Gum Disease

Posted on Oct 03, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

An estimated 47 percent of American adults have some form of periodontal (gum) disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of tooth loss. Missing teeth lead to a long list of problems, from gastrointestinal to psychological. Some studies even indicate that the number of natural teeth a person has is indicative to their lifespan.

Some medications, age, and smoking along with certain foods and beverages can lead to oral dryness. A dry mouth enables oral bacteria to linger and multiply. The longer bacteria remain in the mouth, the faster they are able to reproduce.

A buildup of this bacteria creates a sticky film, known as plaque. While daily brushing and flossing curtail the accumulation of bacteria, an adequate flow of saliva helps to keep bacteria levels under control throughout the day.

Your saliva is more than just moisture in the mouth. It is the first stage of the digestive process and helps you to chew and speak. However, modern science is also looking to saliva to reveal a number of health problems.

Saliva tests can now use the type and quantity of oral bacteria to reveal if you are at greater risk for developing gum infections. Additionally, research is using saliva to reveal the early presence of breast cancer, oral cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, Sjogren’s syndrome, and indicate the presence of tumors in the body and where they are located.

There is an intricate connection between your oral health your overall health. For decades, researchers have studied the link between the bacteria of periodontal disease and heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, preterm babies, and some forms of cancer.

Obviously, maintaining good oral health is important. And, it’s clear that adequate saliva flow is a beneficial component in this effort. To combat dry mouth, it is recommended that you drink plenty of plain water throughout the day. Consider using an oral rinse especially formulated for dry mouth and be dedicated to your brushing and flossing routine at home.

Because your 6-month check-ups and cleanings are structured to remove build-up that has accumulated between visits, they appointments help you to minimize or eliminate damage to teeth and gums.

It is estimated that about 40 percent of Americans take at least one type of medicine that causes oral dryness. If you take medications that are drying to oral tissues, ask your doctor if there are alternatives without this side effect. Some medications that have a particularly drying effect include antihistamines, aspirin, asthma medications and ‘cough and cold’ syrups.

To check the level of tooth loss on a long list of prescription medications, use the link below. For example, this shows Stelara with only 1 case of tooth loss but Prednisone has 436 cases and Zometa has 1,571.


At each appointment, remember to update us on all the medications you take (both prescription and over-the-counter). We know your goal is to avoid gum disease and subsequent tooth loss. Knowing your medical and dental history and list of medications can help us be more proactive on your behalf.

If you have concerns about the health of your gums or have already experienced tooth loss, begin with a consultation. Call 828-274-9440 or tap here to begin.

Recent Posts