How dry mouth impacts your dental health and ways to combat it

It’s that time of the year again when winter is upon us, and you could be at risk of getting dreaded dry mouth.

The changing of the seasons brings many changes in our bodily functions. For example, we may be more prone to colds and flu; we may experience a rash on our skin or enflame our eczema; we can even experience changes in our oral health, specifically, dry mouth.

Also known as xerostomia, this condition can be uncomfortable and negatively affect our oral health.

Why do I experience a dry mouth in winter?

There are several reasons, but cold air is the most common. 

1. Lower Humidity

During winter, there is lower humidity because the air contains less moisture. This means that the air is drier, and in turn, causes your mouth to lose moisture and dry up. 

2. Mouth-breathing 

When we breathe through our mouths because we experience congestion in our noses due to colds and respiratory infections, the production of saliva slows down and causes our mouths to feel dry.

3. Decreased Thirst

During winter, we often are thirsty less than usual. We don’t drink as much water as we should, and this causes dry mouth. 

What are the negative effects of a dry mouth?

1. Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

The decrease of saliva in the mouth can cause gum disease or tooth decay. We need saliva because it maintains oral health by washing away food and bacteria, neutralising harmful acids and providing enzymes that help with digestion. 

2. Bad Breath

Without enough saliva to cleanse the mouth, get rid of bacteria and neutralise the odours produced by that bacteria, bad breath can occur persistently. 

3. Cracked Lips and Mouth Sores

A diminished amount of saliva causes sores on your mouth, cracked lips and split skin at the corners of your mouth. This can be super uncomfortable and dry up the oral tissues.

4. Dehydration 

As we mentioned earlier, we drink less water in winter. This causes dehydration, which negatively affects your health.

What can you do to prevent a dry mouth?

You can be more intentional about drinking more water (even if you don’t feel thirsty), using a humidifier at home, breathing through your nose, and not using mouthwashes with high alcohol content. 

If you’re in need of dental assistance or experiencing persistent dry mouth, don’t hesitate to book an appointment at Smith and van Lierop Dentistry today!