Drought in Your Mouth?

Published Online: Sunday, June 1, 2003

Dry mouth is the result of the salivary glands not working properly. It is a common side effect of many medicines. Also, long-lasting dry mouth may be the result of head and neck radiation treatments, chemotherapy, or diseases such as diabetes.

According to Bruce Baum, DMD, PhD, of the National Institutes of Health, dry mouth "can seriously mar the quality of life. [It] can lead to cavities, mouth sores, and infections." Until there is a cure for severe salivary gland damage, Dr. Baum offers the following suggestions to aid patients with dry mouth:

  • Chew sugarless gum or candy, and drink lots of fluid to keep the mouth moist
  • Ask a physician or dentist about prescription medicines that may help salivary glands work better, and about possibly using artificial saliva to keep the mouth wet
  • Use daily a prescription fluoride toothpaste with 5000 ppm fluoride

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