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  • Writer's pictureDr. Saumitra Saravana

Dry Mouth

We all feel like our mouth is dry from time to time.

However, for some people, Dry mouth and/or reduced salivation is a significant and chronic problem. As we all know, Saliva or spit, lubricates our oral tissues. This fluid is produced by glands in and around the mouth called the Salivary Glands.

Normally, these glands can produce up to 2 ml of Saliva per minute. This rate goes up and down at different times during the day, for example the rate goes up when we are eating and goes down when we are asleep.

Saliva helps us in chewing, digestion but also helps keep our teeth and oral tissues healthy.

When the rate of saliva production drops below a certain amount it's called Hyposalivation. This then leads to Dry Mouth or Xerostomia. Dry mouth can affect Speech, Chewing and Swallowing. It affects the way our food tastes, our breath smells bad. It gets difficult to wear Dentures and affects our general well being.

Having these problems on a long term basis can lead to extensive Dental Caries (Cavities), Oral Fungal Infections (Candida), Burning mouth sensation. Interestingly, many patients do not show any objective signs of reduced saliva but may have problems due to changes in the nature of their saliva.

There are some simple tests to see if you do have a dry mouth issue. For example, if you have to sip liquids to aid in swallowing dry food, suck on sweets or cough drops to relieve dry mouth, getting up at night multiple times to drink water are some signs that you may be suffering from Xerostomia.

Dry Mouth can be caused by many reasons. One of the most important causes of Dry Mouth are the medicines you take. Many drugs such as anticoagulants, antidepressants, antihypertensives, antiretrovirals, hypoglycemics, levothyroxine, multivitamins and supplements, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroid inhalers are known to cause dry mouth. Dry mouth could be the result of aging, in adequate hydration or other diseases such as Sjogren's syndrome.

If you do have a dry mouth problem, there are some easy remedies to try out at the outset. You could try hydrating yourself adequately, use a humidifier at night time, avoiding the use of irritating or strong tooth pastes. The use of sugar free chewing gum might help stimulate the flow of saliva. There are other Salivary stimulants and substitutes such as gel, mouthwash, and toothpastes that provide over-the-counter alternatives to manage reduced salivary function.

Saliva substitutes contain minerals (eg, fluoride, calcium, and phosphate ions), carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxyethylcellulose, flavoring agents, and preservatives (eg, propyl or methyl paraben). Toothpaste, mouth rinse, mouth spray, and gels meant to reduce the symptoms associated with Xerostomia commonly contain olive oil, betaine, and xylitol.

There are newer oral sprays containing Oxygenated Glycerol Tri-Ester that are found to be better at alleviating some of the symptoms when compared to commercially available salivary substitutes.

Sometimes it might be appropriate to ask your physician to prescribe specific medicines such as Pilocarpine and Cevimeline that are approved by FDA to treat Dry Mouth. These medicines, however, do have other side effects. They only work in patients who's salivary glands have reasonable function, secondly they do cause a bunch of other un intended problems such as excessive sweating, changes in your heart rate, stomach problems to name a few. These medicines should only be used after consulting with your physician. Other times, if a specific drug that you are on is causing the problem you could consult with your physician to see if the dosage can be reduced or changing the medicine entirely.

What is important to understand is that if you do have dry mouth, prevention of dental problems is very important.

So this means, daily tooth brushing, routine dental checkups and hygiene visits. Having your dentist apply topical fluoride varnishes will be beneficial in keeping your teeth decay free. Talk to your dentist about being on a prescription high fluoride tooth pastes to be used at night.

If your are looking for a dentist near you/ in Fredericksburg area or you need to get a free consult or have any questions about Dry Mouth call our office at 540 370 8504 or email us at

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