In older adults, a common cause of cavities is dry mouth. Dry mouth can occur as a side effect from aging, from medications treating allergies and high blood pressure, and can occur from dehydration. The presence of dry mouth can make it difficult to swallow, chew, and talk, and as a result, visiting the dentist becomes even more crucial because of how dry mouth can eventually lead to more cavities. According to the CDC, nearly all adults 65 and older had at least one cavity, and 1 in 5 older adults have untreated cavities. This statistic shows the increasing detriment cavities can have on people’s lives. However, as our quality of care aims to observe all factors related to cavity development, one under-noted cause for dry mouth results from poor living conditions that create a terrifying culprit – black mold.
How Black Mold Causes Cavities
Mold continues to develop in homes across the US, with certain molds being toxigenic to the environment. Mold development is a highly common occurrence, with over 300,000 species of mold appearing in almost every home, all of which need to be removed to help protect people’s respiratory health. According to FEMA, there are unique ways this form of fungi spreads and develops:
- Black mold is a rare and dangerous form of mold from the Stachybotrys chartarum fungi, typically infests in areas affected by water damage.
- Black mold often causes respiratory and nasal problems because of mycotoxins or spores’ released. Black mold can typically be found in insulation along walls, in attics, and basements.
- When black mold spores spread, they often travel through the nasal passages and then to the lungs. Due to their porous nature, the spores get caught in these passages and irritate the sinuses, causing symptoms such as coughing, sneezing fits, skin rashes, headaches, and wheezing.
- When long-term coughing and sneezing fits come into play, it can lead to dry mouth, decreasing saliva production. Because saliva plays a crucial part in good dental health, the absence of saliva prevents the mouth from washing away bacteria and keeping the teeth clean. It helps the body remove the buildup of bacteria along with the teeth and gums. For those 65 and older, it can lead to a significant increase in cavity development.
Treating Dry Mouth For Your Oral Health
Currently, the connection between black mold and cavity development needs more research to confirm this occurs because of how rare black mold develops in homes and buildings today. However, the presence of black mold can still be dangerous to your oral health. If you see any signs of mold in your home, we recommend following FEMA’s guidelines on ridding your home of mold and, after decontamination, scheduling an appointment with your dentist. Our dental clinic can help assess many of your dry mouth symptoms and treat them effectively, so contact our dental clinic today to schedule an appointment.