Patient with cavity

How Dry Mouth Causes Cavities

Dry mouth is a condition that is caused by low saliva production inside the mouth. It is not uncommon for this to happen, but if the condition is left untreated, this can impact overall mouth functioning such as chewing and swallowing. Talking may also become difficult.

The link between dry mouth and adverse health conditions is also popular. If you suffer from conditions such as diabetes, stroke, auto-immune diseases and even sleep apnea, the salivary glands do not produce enough saliva, which may also be because there is a lack of water in the body. This is a result of dehydration.

From the perspective of your oral health, dry mouth can also trigger a dental emergency due to the development of tooth decay and cavities.

Cavities formed on teeth


Production of saliva occurs from when we chew our food regularly. The primary function of saliva is to wash away food debris that remains inside the mouth. If you’ve eaten a meal and food remains inside the mouth, the lack of saliva will not clean the mouth.

Plaque is formed as a sticky substance made from leftover food debris that builds on your teeth. Whilst one of the causes of this are poor oral hygiene, low saliva is also a key trigger for this. Plaque is the first stage of tooth decay. Harmful bacteria will begin to develop and, combined with plaque, form an acid attack which will damage your enamel and expose your teeth to decay. As part of tooth decay, a hole will form at the centre of the tooth, which is a cavity.

When the salivary glands are dry, this means there is a lack of saliva production and the right food and drink is not being consumed to produce it.

Saliva-Pro Food And Drink

To minimize the condition of dry mouth, consume the following food and drink regularly:

  • Water – Keep drinking water frequently to keep the mouth moist and loosen the mucus.
  • Moist Foods – Food such as soups, sauces, gravy and boiled vegetables increase saliva production.
  • SugarFree Chewing Gum – Regularly chew on sugar-free gum to reduce plaque, acid and bacteria. It has also proven to strengthen teeth and jaw muscles.


Avoidance Tips

To maintain high-levels of saliva, stay away from the following:

  • Alcohol – Alcohol increases water loss and dries out the mouth.
  • Soft Drinks – Soft drinks contain high levels of sugar. This can cause an acid attack if too much sugar is consumed.
  • Smoking – Smoking compromises saliva function and also attributes to poor oral hygiene.
  • Spicy Foods – Spicy foods are difficult to consume without saliva. Tone down the spice if you experience dry mouth.

In order for your mouth to be healthy, saliva production is of utmost importance. Saliva is what keeps the harmful bacteria away from your mouth and penetrating inside the body. If your mouth is dry for a long period of time, your body has become dehydrated due to a lack of water. Read here to learn more about the link between saliva and oral health. Alternatively, contact one of our helpful Pinnacle dentists for oral advice.