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Xerostomia (pronounced zero-STOW-mea) , or dry mouth can be a serious problem for dental health. It is a result of the failure of the salivary glands to produce the normal amount of saliva. It leads to difficulty in eating and swallowing, and will dramatically alter the sense for taste in many people. It can also lead to multiple dental problems including rampant tooth decay and accelerated periodontal disease.

Xerostomia may be caused by systemic diseases such as Sjögren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erethymatosis, and other connective tissue disorders. It can also be the result of diseases such as hepatitis, HIV infection, or even anxiety or depression. Drug and other medical therapies can also be to blame, such as radiation treatment to the head and neck, antidepressants, diuretics and antihypertensives for blood pressure, and anti histamines are but a few of the culprits. In many cases this is an unwanted side effect of therapy that cannot be discontinued and we need to manage the symptoms as best we can.

Palliative measures:

  • Avoid alcohol in beverages and mouthwash
  • Use a humidifier at night
  • Try sugar free salivary stimulants (sugarless gum or hard candies)
  • Sugar free is critical here to not promote tooth decay

Over the counter products:

  • Bioténe® products include a mouthrinse, toothpaste and oral gel to help moisturize the mouth
  • Salivart® is a very good saliva substitute in a very portable small spray can
  • Gel-kam® fluoride gel or Act® or Flourigard® rinses can add valuable fluoride to strengthen teeth

Prescription medication:

  • Pilocarpine is a drug that can help stimulate natural saliva. It offers mixed results for different individuals and must be prescribed by your physician.
  • Prevident 5000 prescription toothpaste may be used instead of the over the counter fluorides
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