Dental Dilemmas: Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

By Dr. Elizabeth Fleming
January 20, 2014
Category: Uncategorized
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Does your mouth feel drier than the Arizona Desert?  There are different things that may be contributing to this problem:

*  Medications, such as those used to treat anxiety or depression, pain medications, antihistamines,       decongestants, and those used to treat incontinence or Parkinson’s disease.

*  Damage to the salivary glands due to radiation or chemotherapy treatments.

*  Certain conditions or diseases such as Sjogren’s, Alzheimer’s or Stroke.

Saliva is used as a natural digestive aid, and helps with chewing and swallowing.  With a decrease in salivary output, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely to occur.  In cases of dry mouth, you need to practice exceptional oral hygiene techniques to cut down on the risk of dental problems:

  1. Brush your teeth at least two times/day, but preferably after every meal and before bedtime.
  2. Floss daily.
  3. Use fluoride containing toothpaste.
  4. Visit your dentist regularly for checkups (at least 2x/year).  Extra prescription fluoride may be helpful to decrease the harmful effects of dry mouth. Discuss this with your dentist.

There are over the counter artificial saliva products available that may help with minor decreases in salivary function.  Prescription medication may be needed in more severe cases of xerostomia to increase the production of saliva.

If your symptoms of dry mouth are less severe, here are some recommendations to help:

  • Breathe through your nose                                                                                                     
  • Follow a low carbohydrate diet
  • Sip water frequently
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Use xylitol products
  • Keep up with oral hygiene at home
  • Get regular examinations at your dental office

For these and any other dental problems, visit us online:  We welcome your questions and comments!

Elizabeth J Fleming and staff at Desert Ridge Smiles  20950 N Tatum Blvd Ste 280 Phoenix, AZ 85050 480-860-4300