Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) and Dental Cavities

Water is important to your body in a number of ways. One is that water is a key component of saliva (spit). Saliva starts the digestion of starches, keeps the soft tissues of your mouth healthy, and helps control the bacteria that cause cavities.


To some extent dry mouth (xerostomia) affects one out of four people. It is a common part of aging, but many medications also contribute to dry mouth.  Other causes of dry mouth can be systemic diseases (lupus, diabetes, kidney diseases), stress, anxiety, depression, nutrition deficiencies, immune system problems, trauma to the head and/or neck, and radiation treatment that involves salivary gland areas.


Why is this important?


Dry mouth tends to cause root surface cavities that are hard to control and treat. These cavities may cause your crowns, bridges, and implants to fail and may result in the loss of many of your teeth.  Less saliva in your mouth means less rinsing action to remove plaque and food particles from your teeth and gums.


The best way to keep hydrated is to drink water. Not coffee, juice, or sugary beverages, but water. In most cases, tap water is fine. Some bottled waters are just repackaged tap water with no additional benefits. Some bottled waters filter out the fluoride that can help strengthen your teeth.


Recommendations to Control Dry Mouth:

  • Sip water often
  • Avoid sugary foods and drinks. (Any word that ends with –ose is a sugar!)
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Use lip moisturizers
  • Humidify air at home
  • Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Brush at least four times a day (after each meal and at bedtime)
  • Apply prescription-strength fluoride gel at bedtime or chew fluoride lozenges as prescribed
  • For severe cases, a dentist or physician can prescribe a salivary stimulant drug.


Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgment of your health care providers


  1. Somborac, DDS, Milton, Your Mouth, Your Health: Good Carbs, Bad Carbs, and the Mouth-Body Connection, Biomed General, 2016


Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both adults and children.

1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053


www.drjrobb.com                  www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb