Tooth Talk: Causes and treatments for dry mouth

Q: My mouth feels really dry and I don’t know what to do. Can you help?

A: There are many things that can cause “dry mouth” or xerostomia as it is termed medically.

Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain types of medications or cancer therapy. In fact, there are over 500 medications that cause dry mouth.

A dry mouth is not only uncomfortable, it fosters the development of cavities and can increase the risk for developing gum disease.

Normal saliva flow contains enzymes that participate in the fight against cavity formation. It also keeps the mouth and teeth moist which prevents plaque and bacteria from adhering to the teeth.

Dry mouth can also be the result of normal aging or dehydration. We advise patients who are experiencing this problem to be sure to drink plenty of water, at least 6-8 glasses per day.

Persons with xerostomia should avoid sugar at all costs. It is very common for persons with this disorder to use lemon drops, peppermints or other types of hard candies to help stimulate salivary flow. This can be disastrous to the teeth because cavities are easily formed in these conditions. Consuming beverages with high sugar contents like sweet tea, soda, sports drinks and even fruit juices will have the same effect.

We recommend keeping a water bottle with you to sip from at all times even at night next to your bed.

There are many products available whether at your dentists office or at your local drugstore that combat dry mouth. In some cases, a variety or combination of products may be used depending on severity.

Your dentist or dental hygienist have a lot of experience in dealing with this type of problem are your best source for help in selecting the right products while avoiding the wrong ones.

Whatever the case may be this disorder can be easily managed with a little assistance from you dentist or dental hygienist.


Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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