Xerostomia is the medical term for a dry mouth. An occasional dry mouth may only be a minor nuisance. Persistent, long-term dry mouth, on the other hand, can encourage tooth decay, as saliva naturally protects the teeth. There are various treatments you may try to get dry mouth relief. To determine the appropriate course of treatment, it is generally first necessary to determine the cause of the condition.
Patients with xerostomia should make a list of the medications they take, including prescription drugs, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter medications. Some of these may cause dry mouth, including antihistamines, muscle relaxants, and medications for anxiety and depression. Decongestants, urinary incontinence drugs, and high blood pressure drugs can also contribute to the problem.
Do not suddenly stop taking a prescription medication, however. Consult with your doctor about whether it may be causing your dry mouth, and how to safely reduce your dosage. Switching to another medication may also bring dry mouth relief.
If a drug is not the likely culprit of xerostomia, patients may consider their other medical conditions. For example, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and anxiety disorders can contribute to a deficiency of saliva. A doctor may prescribe a medication to increase saliva production for patients with contributing physical conditions.
Patients who do not take medications or have possible contributory conditions should evaluate their habits for possible causes. For example, snoring can cause xerostomia, as can breathing with one's mouth open. Patients may consult with their doctors to develop a treatment plan to combat these behaviors. Additionally, smokers or those who chew tobacco may consider quitting this habit for dry mouth relief. A doctor can recommend a treatment plan for nicotine addiction.
After considering these possible causes of xerostomia, patients may also achieve dry mouth relief by establishing a few everyday habits. Turning on a humidifier at bedtime can help improve dry air. Sipping water throughout the day and chewing on sugar-free gum may also help a dry mouth.
Avoid the use of a mouthwash that contains alcohol. This can dry out your mouth. Consult with your dentist or doctor for recommendations of oral hygiene products. Some toothpastes, mouthwashes, and oral moisturizers are made specifically for dry mouth relief. You may also consider the use of artificial saliva, which comes in the form of a spray or a rinse.
Patients with xerostomia should follow careful oral hygiene practices. Since this condition may lead to dental problems, it is essential for patients to see a dentist at least twice a year. Brushing after every meal with a soft toothbrush is essential, as is flossing at least once daily.