Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

At Jay Lopez, D.D.S., in Tucson, AZ, we know dry mouth can be a chronic and very uncomfortable condition for many people. If you have difficulty chewing, swallowing, tasting or speaking, or have a burning feeling in the mouth, we recommend you call for an examination and Dr. Lopez’s recommendations. And, because dry mouth increases the risk of developing dental decay and additional oral health problems, it’s important to regularly visit the dentist.

There are many reasons why salivary glands can fail to produce sufficient saliva. The medical term for this condition is “Xerostomia.” One primary reason is medication. More than 488 medicines can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva. Medicines for high blood pressure and depression are a frequent cause. Some diseases affect the salivary glands, for example, Sjogren’s syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease can all cause dry mouth. Radiation of the head and neck can damage salivary glands causing dry mouth. Chemotherapy, in general, can affect saliva production.

Once the underlying cause or causes of your dry mouth are understood, Dr. Lopez can recommend treatment. There are gels, rinses, lozenges and mouth sprays that might help. In addition to Dr. Lopez’s medicinal recommendations, frequently sip water and sugarless drinks – but, avoid coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas, as they contribute to dry mouth. Chewing xylitol gum or sucking on xylitol hard candy can stimulate saliva flow. Use a humidifier. Avoid tobacco and alcohol. You may find you need to avoid spicy and salty foods, as these can cause pain in a dry mouth.

Remember, if you have dry mouth, you need to be extra careful to keep your teeth healthy. Make sure you:

  • Talk to Dr. Jay Lopez about using a Caries Management regimen to fight against tooth decay. This may include using CarieFree® oral healthcare products.
  • Gently brush your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Floss your teeth every day.
  • Choose the right toothpaste; not all toothpastes are equal. Allow Dr. Lopez and his team to help guide you in selecting the best toothpaste for your needs.
  • Avoid sticky, sugary foods. If you do eat them, brush immediately afterwards.
  • Visit Dr. Lopez for a check-up at least twice a year. He might give you a special fluoride solution that you can rinse with to help keep your teeth healthy.

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For information on Sjogren’s Syndrome, a major cause of dry mouth, go to www.sjogrens.org.