Almost everyone has experienced dry mouth at some point. For some people, however, it can become a long-term problem. The clinical name for dry mouth is xerostomia (ZEE-roe-STOE-mee-uh), which is a subjective feeling of dryness in the mouth. It can occur when the glands in the mouth and throat that make saliva?the salivary glands?do not make enough of it. Lack of saliva can lead to an increased risk of:
What Can Cause a Dry Mouth?
Many things can cause a dry mouth. Temporary dry mouth can be caused by nervousness, stress, or excessive talking or singing. These situations do not typically lead to long-term problems, although they can be uncomfortable to deal with. Chronic Dry Mouth, which can lead to more severe complications, can be caused by:
?Medications: Hundreds of medications can cause Dry Mouth. Some of the most common include medicines for allergy, high blood pressure, and pain, and antidepressants and diuretics.
?Chemotherapy and radiation therapy: Cancer therapy can decrease the amount of saliva produced. Radiation therapy to the head and neck can damage the salivary glands, leading to chronic complications.
?Diseases: Certain medical conditions are associated with Dry Mouth, such as diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, and Sjogren's syndrome (a condition characterized by dry mouth and eyes).
?Nerve damage: Trauma to the head and neck can damage the nerves that tell the salivary glands to make saliva.
How Do You Protect Your Mouth from Dry Mouth Complications?
Mouth care is very important, especially to help reduce the risk of cavities associated with Dry Mouth. Mouth care recommendations are:
How Can You Manage a Dry Mouth?
Many options exist to help manage a dry mouth. These range from diet changes to prescription medications. Diet changes may include:
Most over-the-counter remedies to relieve the symptoms of dry mouth work by imitating saliva. These products are often referred to as saliva substitutes, and they include Salivart, SalivaSure, and Mouth Kote. Another product used to relieve dry mouth symptoms is Oasis Moisturizing Mouth Spray. Products that help manage a dry mouth come in a variety of forms, ranging from mouthwashes to sprays to lozenges. These products are easy to find in your local pharmacy and are outlined below:
Oasis is available as a Moisturizing Mouthwash and Mouth Spray. Product claims include:
Biotene is available as a mouthwash, moisturizing gel, toothpaste, gum, moisturizing liquid, and denture grip. Product claims include:
Salivart is available as a moisturizing spray. Product claims include:
SalivaSure is available as lozenges. Product claims include:
Mouth Kote is available as a moisturizing spray. Product claims include:
Nature's Answer PerioWash
Nature's Answer PerioWash is available as a mouthwash. Product claims include:
Omni Oral Care products with xylitol
Omni Oral Care products are available as a moisturizing spray, lozenges, and gum. Product claims include:
Orajel Dry Mouth
Orajel Dry Mouth is available as a moisturizing spray, gel, and toothpaste. Product claims include:
Signs of Problem Dry Mouth Can Include:
Dr. Brown is assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy,West Palm Beach, Fla, and clinical oncology specialist at Lynn Regional Cancer Center West, Boca Raton, Fla.
In Seniors: Consider CMV Serostatus
When Recommending Flu Vaccine
Older people who have cytomegalovirus seem to have less robust responses to the trivalent influenza vaccine than those who do not have CMV.
News from the year's biggest meetings
Clinical features with downloadable PDFs