What is Xerostomia and Do I Have It?

We all need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths and digest food. It also helps prevent tooth decay and bad breath by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria, enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to swallow.

When you don't make enough saliva, your mouth gets dry and uncomfortable. Fortunately, many treatments can help with dry mouth, which is also called xerostomia.

It's a common problem that can range from being merely a nuisance to something that has a major impact on your general health and the health of your teeth, as well as your appetite and enjoyment of food.

What Causes Xerostomia?

  • Side effect of certain medications, such as those used for treating depression, anxiety, pain, cold and allergies.
  • Side effect of certain medical conditions, such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension and Parkinson's.
  • Side effect of certain medical treatments, such as radiation to the head and neck or chemotherapy, which can damage the salivary glands and reduce the amount of saliva made.

What Treatments Are Available? The treatment for xerostomia depends on the cause, but in general these tips will help keep your salivary glands healthy and your mouth moist and comfortable:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Suck on sugar-free candy If dry mouth is caused by a health-related situation that can be changed, your dentist or doctor will consider making a change.

For example, xerostomia is a common side effect of drugs used to treat many conditions so your dentist or doctor may change your medication or adjust the dosage. However, if the underlying medical condition causing the dry mouth cannot be changed, treatment will focus on ways to increase saliva flow. Your SEDA dentist or your doctor may recommend the use of artificial saliva products. These products are available over-the-counter in a rinse or spray.

Toothpastes, mouthwashes, and moisturizing gels that are specially formulated for individuals with dry mouth are also available. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe medication that increases the natural production of saliva. Finally, there are promising new treatments under investigation. Scientists are working on ways to repair salivary glands that have been damaged and are developing an artificial salivary gland that can be implanted into the body. If you have questions call and make an appointment with SEDA Dental today and talk with a SEDA Dental Team member right away!

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.