Dry Mouth, Medication and Your Oral Health
Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is the condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Without enough saliva, chewing, eating, swallowing and even talking can be difficult. Dry mouth also increases the risk for tooth decay because saliva helps keep harmful germs that cause tooth decay and other oral infections in check. Saliva also contains minerals (calcium and phosphate) that can help reverse early decay. If you have dentures, dry mouth can make them uncomfortable and they may not fit as well. Without enough saliva, dentures can also rub against the gums and cause sore spots. It’s important to know that dry mouth is not part of the aging process itself. However, many older adults take medications that can dry out the mouth. We take a look at what medications cause dry mouth for the older population and how it effects their oral health.
What causes dry mouth and why is it an issue?
Sometimes, a dry mouth is simply the result of not drinking enough water during the day or re-hydrating after strenuous exercise. Temporary dry mouth can also come from stress or nerves, like the kind you may experience before speaking in front of a large group of people. More often, however, dry mouth is a side effect of medication. Dry mouth also raises your risk of gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay, and mouth infections, such as thrush. Saliva in our mouths helps to wash away food debris and reduce plaque. As such, dry mouth can lead to severe tooth decay and gum disease if left untreated. In fact, 30 percent of all tooth decay in older adults is caused by dry mouth, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation
What are the most common medications that cause dry mouth?
It is estimated that there are over 1,800 prescription and nonprescription medications that cause dry mouth, including drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, and colds (antihistamines and decongestants), obesity, acne, epilepsy, hypertension (diuretics), diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence, asthma (certain bronchodilators), and Parkinson’s disease. Dry mouth can also be a side effect of muscle relaxants and sedatives. Here are some of the most common medications that have dry mouth as a side effect:
controlling conditions such as colitis, spastic bladder, diverticulitis, colic in infants, renal and biliary colic, peptic ulcers, motion sickness, nausea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
How is dry mouth treated?
If you think your dry mouth is caused by certain medication you’re taking, talk to your doctor. The doctor may adjust the dose you’re taking or switch you to a different drug that doesn’t cause dry mouth.
The doctor may also prescribe an oral rinse to restore mouth moisture. If that doesn’t help, he or she may prescribe a medication that boosts saliva production called Salagen.
You can also try these other steps, which may help improve saliva flow:
Do you have any questions about medication and dry mouth? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-655-5000 or request an appointment online.