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Over-the-Counter Treatments for Dry Mouth


By Staff Writer

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Dry MouthDry mouth is a condition in which a person's mouth produces little or no saliva. Since saliva is a natural lubricant, people with dry mouth may have trouble eating, swallowing, talking and wearing dentures. With less saliva to wash away bacteria and other microbes, people with dry mouth are at higher risk for tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections. Many people develop dry mouth as a side effect from antihypertensives, antidepressants and antianxiety drugs. Medical conditions that cause dry mouth include Sjogren’s syndrome (a condition in which the salivary glands are destroyed) and uncontrolled diabetes. Radiation therapy to the face or neck can cause severe cases. People with dry mouth can relieve some of the effect with non-drug treatments like drinking plenty of water, breathing through the nose, sucking on sugarless candy or lozenges, chewing sugarless gum and/or using a humidifier at night. Artificial saliva products that resemble naturally-produced saliva are available as sprays, swabs and solutions in a variety of flavors. Some artificial saliva products contain fluoride or calcium to protect teeth. Apply artificial saliva products to the mouth as often as needed to treat the symptoms of dry mouth. Several toothpastes and gums are specifically designed for people with dry mouth. The makers of Biotene® Dry Mouth Toothpaste claim that it reduces the bacteria and gum irritations that can result from dry mouth. Biotene Dry Mouth Gum contains enzymes similar to those found in saliva. Prescription treatments for dry mouth are available if over-the-counter saliva substitutes are not effective.

Sources: Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs. American Pharmaceutical Association, 2000.National Institutes of Health - Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth. http://www.nih.gov/nia/health/agepages/teeth.htm. last accessed 12/21/00.Cecil Textbook of Medicine. W. B. Saunders Company, 2000.Health. “Dry mouth”. www.mayoclinic.com. Mayo Clinic Health. Last Accessed 12/2006.This answer prepared 12/21/2000.This information updated 2/6/2007.

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