Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition caused by a decrease in the production of saliva by the salivary glands in the mouth. It is often a side effect of commonly prescribed medications but it can also be caused by certain medical conditions.
There are many medications that can cause dry mouth and some of the more common ones include:
- anorexiants (diet pills)
- antihypertensives (blood pressure meds)
- antipsychotics (psychiatric drugs)
- anti-Parkinson agents, diuretics (“water pills”)
- sedatives (sleeping pills)
Medical conditions that can cause dry mouth include:
- Radiation therapy: specifically for the treatment of head and neck cancer.
- Chemotherapy: this is usually temporary situation but can become a problem if the therapy is prolonged.
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Auto-immune disorders: Systemic Lupus Erythematosis, Sjörgren’s syndrome, Rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for dry mouth is usually directed at treating the symptoms. Palliative treatment recommendations include:
- Staying hydrated by drinking sugar free liquids.
- Using sugar-free mints or gum.
- Using saliva substitutes that can be found at the pharmacy.
- Biotene products, also available at the pharmacy, may be useful.
Patients that are suffering from dry mouth are more prone to developing cavities. These cavities can be very extensive and occur in areas of the teeth where cavities do not usually occur. This makes the cavities very difficult to control and restore.
It is very important to talk to your dentist if you are suffering from dry mouth before the problems occur. Other treatments, such as custom fluoride tray application, may be recommended to protect the teeth from cavities. Please do not hesitate to ask us about dry mouth if it is an issue for you.