Is Your Mouth Frequently Dry? Oral Bacteria Thrive In A Dry Mouth.

Posted on Mar 30, 2017 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Okay, let’s admit it – we all have not-so-fresh breath at times. Upon wakening in the morning, after several cups of coffee, or indulging in a garlicky dish – we all have times that leave us hoping to avoid close interactions.

Occasional bad breath is fairly normal in situations as described above. Other than its source being certain foods (which can emerge from the stomach and linger long after consumption), smelly breath odor is most commonly the result of oral bacteria buildup.

It’s normal for every mouth to contain a certain amount of bacteria. It’s when the bacteria levels accumulate beyond what is manageable that creates the unpleasant stink of bad breath.

One source of persistent bad breath is periodontal (gum) disease. Frequent bad breath is a symptom of gum disease and is often accompanied by gum tenderness, seeing blood in the sink when brushing, or gums that deepen in color. If your breath odor is not coming from gum disease, however, your problem is likely related to a dry mouth.

Xerostomia, commonly known as ‘dry mouth,’ is a frequent state of oral dryness. Saliva is your mouth’s natural rinsing agent that helps cleanse oral bacteria from the mouth. This keeps bacteria to a minimum and their ability to cause problems at low risk.

When saliva flow is depleted, however, bacteria ‘hang around’ in the mouth longer and multiply rapidly. As oral bacteria thrive, reproduce and amass, the initial result is plaque. Plaque, the sticky film you can feel on teeth, also has an odor.

Periodic dry mouth can occur from consuming alcoholic beverages, coffee and certain medications. Although sugary drinks don’t necessarily dry oral tissues (unless they contain caffeine), sugar provides an ideal food for bacteria reproduction. When these beverages are both sugary and caffeinated, your mouth gets a one-two punch when it comes to oral bacteria growth.

Medications, such as antihistamines and some prescribed for depression and urinary incontinence can contribute to dry mouth. Medical conditions, including acid reflux, sinus infections, diabetes and bronchitis can also cause dry mouth. A bad cold, snoring or just being in the habit of breathing through the mouth are drying as well.

And the worst culprit of all for dry mouth? Smoking.

To begin, we examine patients who have a dry mouth to determine its source. Once the reason for your breath odor has been found, simple measures can often resolve the problem. These include:
 – Brush at least two minutes, twice daily. Use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue with your toothbrush after brushing teeth.
 – Floss daily. If this is difficult or awkward for you, purchase an electronic flosser.
 – Drink lots of water throughout the day. (Sports drinks do not count!) If you take medications that have drying side effects, use an oral rinse that replenishes saliva. There are several available over-the-counter.

Having fresh, confident breath begins with a clean, healthy mouth. If you have symptoms of gum disease or feel you have persistent bad breath, call (828) 274-9440 to schedule an examination.

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