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The medical name for dry mouth is xerostomia, or the absence of saliva. Xerostomia is usually the result of certain autoimmune diseases, chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer, and endocrine or nerve conditions. Saliva contains enzymes that protect the teeth from cavities and initiate food digestion. Ultimately, the cause of xerostomia should be treated because an absence of saliva can lead to tooth decay and malnutrition. Medication remedies for dry mouth are available to alleviate the condition.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Two prescription medications are classified solely to increase saliva production, according to Drugs.com 2. Pilocarpine, or Salagen, as well as cevimeline, or Evoxac, are saliva stimulants that impact the central nervous system. Most frequently used for xerostomia caused by cancer treatments and the autoimmune condition Sjogren’s syndrome, these medications can cause excessive sweating in conjunction with increased saliva 2. Taken three times daily, these drugs will treat the dry mouth symptom but not the underlying cause.
Bad Breath and Lactose Intolerance
Most frequently, xerostomia is a syndrome caused by a prescription medication. Listed as a frequent side effect of over 400 medications, xerostomia may be cured by choosing an alternate medication, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation 2. A physician can prescribe a chemically different version of the medication a patient currently uses that will provide the same end result.
Rather than stimulating natural saliva production, some individuals choose to relieve dry mouth with artificial saliva formulations. Many over-the-counter products are available as gels, sprays and liquids, including the brand names Moi-Stir, Optimoist and Saliva Substitute. The University of Illinois at Chicago also recommends making a saliva solution at home composed of water and glycerin. Although this home mixture does not contain the enzymes of saliva, the glycerin is a common ingredient in OTC preparations and provides a degree of moisture and comfort within the mouth.
- Rather than stimulating natural saliva production, some individuals choose to relieve dry mouth with artificial saliva formulations.
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- Mayo Clinic: Dry Mouth
- Drugs: Xerostomia Medications
- American Dental Association (ADA). Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). Department of Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute. Updated July 9, 2019.
- Bartels C. Xerostomia. The Oral Cancer Foundation. Updated October 15, 2018
- Barnhart MK, Robinson RA, Simms VA, et al. Treatment toxicities and their impact on oral intake following non-surgical management for head and neck cancer: a 3-year longitudinal study. Support Care Cancer. 2018;26(7):2341-2351. doi:10.1007/s00520-018-4076-6
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Candida Infections Of The Mouth, Throat, And Esophagus | Fungal Diseases | CDC. National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED). Updated November 13, 2019.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus, & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Xerostomia. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- Rusthen S, Kristoffersen AK, Young A, Galtung HK, Petrovski BÉ, Palm Ø et al. Dysbiotic salivary microbiota in dry mouth and primary Sjögren's syndrome patients. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 18;14(6):e0218319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218319.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Dry Mouth. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- American Dental Association. Dry Mouth. Mouth Healthy. Updated January 2019.
- Men K, Geng H, Zhong H, Fan Y, Lin A, Xiao Y. A deep learning model for predicting xerostomia due to radiotherapy for head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma in the RTOG 0522 clinical trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2019 Jun 12. pii: S0360-3016(19)30834-X. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.06.009.
- National Institutes of Health. Dry Mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Updated January 2019.
As a bachelor's-prepared registered nurse with more than 15 years of diversified experience, Juliet Wilkinson innerves our health-conscious population through expert articles. She is a motivated professional who believes that preventive care is the first step towards health and well-being.