Dry Mouth (cont.)

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What is the treatment for dry mouth?

Those seeking treatment for dry mouth will most likely want something to provide comfort and relief. Treatment for dry mouth can be divided into the following three categories: saliva substitution, saliva stimulation, prevention of caries, and yeast (Candida) infection.

Saliva substitution: When selecting a mouthwash, the person must choose a product that doesn't contain alcohol, such as Biotene, for alcohol-based products will only cause further mouth dryness. There are many home remedies to help with dry mouth. These include drinking water more frequently throughout the day, especially while eating. Restricting caffeine intake and letting ice melt in the mouth will help the mouth remain as moist as possible. Humidifying the sleeping area and coating the lips with a balm or Vaseline are also helpful remedies.

Saliva stimulation: Chewing gum can help stimulate salivary flow, but it is important to remember not to use gum or candies that have sugar in them or the person will be placed at greater risk for developing cavities. Sugar-free lemon drops can be comforting in relieving dry mouth. Other remedies include medications that help increase salivary flow such as pilocarpine (Salagen) and cevimeline (Evoxac). These prescription medications are to be avoided by people with asthma or glaucoma. Artificial saliva substitutes and oral lubricants containing glycerin will provide help during eating and speaking. They won't cure xerostomia but will provide some relief.

Prevention of caries and Candida infection: Cavities, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and fungal infections are common complications of dry mouth. A dry oral environment makes plaque control more difficult, so meticulous oral care and hygiene becomes essential in preventing rampant caries, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. The affected individual should incorporate a low-sugar diet and begin daily use of fluoride treatments and antimicrobial rinses to combat the effects oral dryness has on the teeth and oral tissues. Prescription toothpastes that contain more fluoride, calcium, and phosphate will help protect and remineralize teeth where necessary. Frequent visits to the dentist are necessary to help manage these complications. Since people with dry mouth often develop fungal infections such as thrush (oral candidiasis), they may require topical antifungal treatment such as rinses and dissolving tablets. Dentures often harbor fungal infections, so they should be soaked daily in chlorhexidine or 1% bleach.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/1/2014

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