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How to Keep Your Mouth Healthy When Medications Make It Tough

by Jen Simpson October 11, 2017 Healthy Living

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If you’re looking for a good excuse to chat about your teeth, you get a free pass this October. Known officially as National Dental Hygiene Month, the month-long celebration offers the opportunity to behave like a dentist or let someone know just how important it is to floss. However, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffer from dry mouth, clinically referred to as xerostomia, the simple act of talking or extending your tongue can range from mildly unpleasant to downright uncomfortable. The good news is, xerostomia symptoms are fairly easily treated.

What Causes Xerostomia

Occasionally, excessive dry mouth has no known cause, but there are many things that can stop the production of saliva and result in it. The condition is seen most often in certain demographic groups, such as seniors. Specific medications are linked to it, as well as several other medical conditions.

Common Medications Linked to Xerostomia

  • Antibiotics

  • Antidepressants

  • Antihistamines

  • Anxiety Medications

  • Blood Pressure Medications

  • Decongestants

  • Diuretics

  • Overactive Bladder Medications

  • Parkinson’s Disease Medications

  • Muscle Relaxers

  • Pain Medications

Common Medical Conditions Linked to Xerostomia

  • Alzheimer's Disease

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Head or Neck Cancer (while receiving radiation therapy)

  • Lupus

  • Parkinson’s Disease

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • Sjögren Disease

  • Stress

  • Stroke

Why Treatment is Essential

Naturally, those who suffer from xerostomia generally want to correct the problem because their mouth feels uncomfortable or because they want to eliminate some of the other symptoms associated with it. However, the condition can lead to much bigger problems, such as oral infections and tooth decay. This is because saliva keeps the mouth healthy. It regulates pH and helps move food particles away from the teeth, and, perhaps most importantly, it bathes teeth and oral tissue in minerals and good bacteria. Without saliva, the bad bacteria that causes tooth decay can sometimes thrive, the minerals that teeth soak up to stay strong deplete, and tissues lose their protective coating, creating the perfect environment for decay, tissue damage, and infections.

Treatment for Xerostomia

  1. Talk to your doctor. It’s important for a medical professional to evaluate your condition, identify its cause, and determine the best possible treatment for your needs. Your physician may recommend that you switch medications or recommend an alternate treatment. For example, if your condition is worsened by mouth breathing, your doctor may investigate causes like allergies or sleep apnea.

  2. See your dentist twice a year or more. Regular dental care is absolutely necessary if you’re in a high-risk category for decay. Most people should visit twice per year, but your dentist may suggest you visit three or four times if you have specific medical conditions or have a high decay rate. Moreover, your dentist may recommend fluoride to help prevent cavities or another type of mineralizing agent to strengthen your teeth if you’re at risk for decay, in addition to treating the xerostomia.

  3. Use alcohol-free oral hygiene products. If you’re a fan of mouthwash, select an alcohol-free variety. There are many over the counter dry mouth products, such as mouthwash, gel, lozenges and spray that moisturize and protect your mouth.

  4. Suck on sugar-free candy and mints. This increases the production of saliva. Look for something containing the sugar substitute xylitol for its added cavity-fighting benefits, but use it in moderation because it can cause diarrhea in some people with sensitivities.

  5. Cut out tobacco and spicy foods. These can worsen xerostomia.

  6. Drink lots of water. Naturally, staying hydrated will reduce the symptoms associated with dry mouth.

  7. Practice good oral hygiene. To stave off cavities, be sure to brush and floss after every meal.

  8. Run a humidifier. Adding moisture to the air will help keep your oral tissues moist.

RefillWise is Your Partner in Fighting Xerostomia

When consulting with your healthcare provider, know that RefillWise can make prescription options needed to treat conditions and symptoms commonly linked with xerostomia more affordable. Our free card saves 40% on average at all chain and most independent pharmacies. Stick your tongue out at xerostomia. Sign up for your free RefillWise pharmacy discount card or text JOIN to 22822 to instantly save on prescriptions while earning cash rewards for over the counter remedies and other necessities right away.

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