Dry Mouth Blog
Blog, Hygiene, Tooth Wear

If you found your mouth getting dry during all those Zoom calls at lockdown, you might be suffering from xerostomia or dry mouth. Often overlooked, the impact on teeth is a slow change that causes yellow worn teeth.

Zoomed Out?

I found my days during lockdown filled with Zoom and Skype meetings.  Sometimes I’d be delivering a webinar somewhere in the world, finishing after an hour with a dry mouth.  Was it just all that talking?  Or was there a biological reason for it?

A day full of Zoom calls, webinars and coffee.

Saliva Self Check

Saliva is a critical player in keeping our teeth pristine. It maintains the chemical balance that keeps minerals in our tooth enamel, making teeth white and hard.  Saliva is also a lubricant – keeping the mouth slippery and protecting the lining and gums.

Test yourself for dry mouth by:

  1. Pull out your bottom lip,
  2. Blot it dry and wait 60 seconds.
  3. There should be small beads of saliva droplets forming.
  4. If there isn’t saliva appearing after a minute, this is a sign of inadequate production and potential for a dry mouth.
  5. Seek advice from your dentist and be properly tested.


Low Saliva Flow – The Causes

Saliva diminishes with age and we see more decay, acid erosion and tooth wear as we have less saliva.  Here are some of the other things that reduce saliva flow:

  • Caffeine: tea, coffee, sodas, alcohol.
  • Menopause.
  • Medication: for depression, anxiety, mood disorders, allergy, hypertension, eplispsy, asthma, nerve pain relief, muscle relaxants, nausea.
  • Stress
  • Over-exercising and dehydration
  • Autoimmune and metabolic conditions like Sjogrens syndrome and diabetes mellitis.
  • Head and neck radiotherapy
  • Mouthbreathing, due to airway obstruction and weight gain.


Enamel Wear

Tooth enamel is the hard outer coating on teeth. It makes them look white, is very strong and yet can dissolve if the mouth chemistry changes. Saliva keeps that chemical balance in check.

Healthy Tooth Enamel

Enamel provides the white, strong outer layer to teeth.


When teeth start to wear without protection from saliva, we see teeth becoming yellow, thin and worn down as enamel disappears over time.

Enamel is disappearing in a patient who is a mouthbreather with a dry mouth.

In extreme cases, sensitivity and staining starts to occur.

Repairing the Damage

Tooth wear is a by product of dry mouth and often occurs in combination with other factors.  This case involved a patient with an auto-immune disease called Sjogrens syndrome.  Chronic dry mouth had caused worn front and back teeth, a very deep, collapsed bite with jaw pain.  We had to open the bite, rebuilding worn teeth and restored a confident smile at the same time.  Porcelain veneers and crowns were used in this case.

Tooth wear due to dry mouth has caused a deep bite.

The same patient after opening the bite and rebuilding front and back teeth with porcelain crowns and veneers.

Dry Mouth Solutions

Once we establish that saliva flow is low, we look for the cause.  Sometimes simple changes allow us to modify lifestyle factors, such as moderating caffeine intake.  Where medication causes dry mouth we can work with your doctor to see if some drugs have less dry mouth side effects.

Dentists have access to great products to help keep the pH and chemistry of the mouth stable.  We also recommend lubricating products that keep the mouth moist.

Low abrasion toothpastes are helpful – they don’t scour teeth and add to tooth wear.  Moderating dietary intake of acids will also help maintain a neutral chemistry and avoid acid erosion on top of existing wear, often compounding the problem.  Chewing gum also helps to stimulate saliva flow.

In extreme cases, such as patients with radiotherapy of the head and neck, we need to use saliva substitutes.  These are prescription formulae that keep the mouth moist and lubricated.


Dry Mouth Assessment

Our office offers a 30 minute assessment, measuring the flow, pH and buffering capacity of your saliva.  We’ll make recommendations about protective products and lifestyle advice.  We’ll scan your teeth to generate comparative digital 3D models.  A re-scan, recorded over 6-24 months, will allow us to quantify tooth loss.  We can measure active tooth damage by layering the 2 scans over each other.

Worried about dry mouth – arrange an Assessment by contacting our office on 09-9192660 or email us.