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Dr. Edwards' Blog

Diagnosing and Treating Dry Mouth -- August 4, 2011

Here at Optima Dental Group, we're seeing an big increase in the number of patients suffering from "dry mouth," also called xerostomia (zeer-oh-stomia).  That condition is a result of a decrease in the amount or quality of saliva the body produces.  Saliva is an essential bodily fluid that, among other things, protects and cleans our mouths, helps with chewing and swallowing and protects teeh from decay.

So what causes this decrease in saliva?  There can be many reasons, but the most common are:

  • prolonged use of many prescription drugs including certain antihistamines, antihypertensives and antidepressants
  • chronic diseases such as Sjogren's syndrome, sarcoidosis, hepatitis C, diabetes or depression
  • medical treatments such as radiation therapy to the head and neck or bone marrow transplantation

If you suffer from dry mouth, keep your mouth moist by sipping small amounts of water during the day.  Avoid carbonated and sports/energy drinks along coffee, tea and soft drinks that contain caffeine.  

To increase salivary secretion, chew gum that contains no sugar or suck on sugarfree hard candies. 

Many over-the-counter saliva substitutes are available.  Their effects are temporary but helpful to those with very dry mouth.  I commonly prescribe a drug called Salagen that is effective in increasing salivary secretion for most patients taking them.


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