Saliva is one of your body's natural defenses against plaque because it acts to rinse your mouth of cavity-causing bacteria and other harmful materials. Dry mouth (also called Xerostomia) is a fairly common condition that is caused by diminished saliva production. People with medical conditions, such as an eating disorder or diabetes, are often plagued by dry mouth. Eating foods such as garlic, tobacco use, and some kinds of medications, including treatments such as cancer therapy can diminish the body's production of saliva, leading to dry mouth. Other causes are related to aging (including rheumatoid arthritis), and compromised immune systems.

Some of the less alarming results of dry mouth include bad breath. But dry mouth can lead to more serious problems, including burning tongue syndrome, a painful condition caused by lack of moisture on the tongue.

If dry mouth isn't readily apparent, you may experience other conditions that dry mouth can cause, including an overly-sensitive tongue, chronic thirst or even difficulty in speaking.

If you don't have a medical condition that causes it, dry mouth can be minimized by sipping water regularly, chewing sugarless gum and avoiding smoking. Of course, there is no substitute for regular checkups and good oral hygiene.

Palliative Treatment of Dry Mouth

Artificial Lubricants:

  • Biotene Oral Balance Gel-GlaxoSmithKline (800) 652-5625, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS
  • Biotene Dry Mouth Spray- GlaxoSmithKline (800) 652-5625, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS
  • Oasis Mouth Spray- GlaxoSmithKline (800) 652-5625
  • GC Mouth Gel-3M (800) 323-7063
  • GC MI Paste Plus-3M (800) 323-7063

Non-irritating Toothpaste:

  • Biotene Toothpaste- GlaxoSmithKline (800) 652-5625, Meijer, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS
  • ClinPro 5000 toothpaste-Prescription available

Mouth Washes:

  • Perioguard, Colgate – Prescription available
  • Crest Pro Health Complete Mouth Rinse-Meijer, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS
  • Other Suggestions:

    • Use a humidifier beside your bed.
    • Restrict caffeine intake as it has a drying effect.
    • Sip lots of water throughout the day and try drinking milk with meals since it has moisturizing properties and helps some people to swallow their food better.
    • Avoid the following: pop, juice, sports drinks, sugar, candy and gum.
    • Avoid products containing alcohol, whitening or tarter-control because they will further dry and irritate tissues.
    • You can try sucking on a cherry pit, olive pit, or lemon rind.
    • Electric toothbrushes may help stimulate salivary flow and improve plaque removal.

     


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