Dry mouth is caused by many things and can cause bad breath; in fact, they often are symptoms that are found simultaneously.
Because there are a variety of ways dry mouth is caused it should not be surprising that there are a variety of ways to treat it.
Unfortunately a review of prescription medications shows that 7 out of 10 will list dry mouth, bad breath or a taste disorder as a side effect. Several of the medications that cause dry mouth include Evista, Zyban and Nexium.
If your dry mouth is related to medications you may be taking then you are advised to talk with your doctor about the possibility of switching or stopping the medication.
Because you have the side effect of dry mouth Evista does not mean that a medication to treat the same condition will cause dry mouth. So, for instance, although Nexium may cause dry mouth for you it does not mean that Tagamet or Zantac will.
One of the best ways to treat dry mouth is to look for the source of the problem. It may be medications you are taking, a medical problems (such as diabetes or arthritis) or from a low-grade infection in the mouth.
Sometimes the exact cause of the dry mouth is not evident and you will be forced to treat the symptoms instead of the underlying cause.
As mentioned before, if the dry mouth is caused from a medication then the dry mouth treatment will be to change, decrease or stop the medication. You must weigh the risk vs. benefit of the medication.
Although dry mouth is uncomfortable, it can also cause some dental issues. If the medication is for heartburn and Gastroesophageal reflux one of the long-term side effects are erosions in the esophagus that bleed or cancer.
The best-case scenario is that you are able to treat the underlying condition so you do not suffer long-term side effects from that as well as the dry mouth.
Dry Mouth Treatment
In the case of diseases such as diabetes, once the condition is under control the dry mouth often disappears. In the case of illnesses such as arthritis it is impossible to determine why you have a side effect of dry mouth and you must treat both the arthritis and the dry mouth symptoms to find relief.
Some patients find that they have what might be termed a low-grade infection in their mouths that cause bad breath. This infection is set up in a dry environment, hence the need to treat dry mouth.
There are several methods to treat these anaerobic bacteria, which your dentist can discuss with you.
Always investigate the potential reasons for dry mouth with your doctor to rule out any potential medical causes that can have significant effects if left untreated. However, if there is no reason found, dry mouth treatment can include many things that you can do at home.
1. Keep water with you and drink frequently. It is important to drink while you are eating to help in the chewing and swallowing if you are short on saliva.
2. Use a humidifier in your room at night. We spend at least six hours each night in our bedrooms, often sleeping with our mouths hanging wide open. Without the extra humidity our mouths will dry out quickly.
3. Avoid the use of anything with caffeine or alcohol. Both of these drugs will decrease the flow of saliva and dry out your body even more. Stop smoking – another mouth irritant.
4. You can use a lip balm or moisturizer to minimize any irritation that your lips might experience from the dry mouth environment.
5. There are things you can do to stimulate the flow of more saliva such as eating foods that require that you chew them thoroughly; chew sugarless gum, sucking on an olive pit or the rind of a lemon or lime.
Without dry mouth treatment, you are at increased risk for tooth decay. Not only does the saliva in your mouth help to make it easier to chew and swallow but also it is a natural mouth cleaner.
Without saliva, you are at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease. You should practice good oral hygiene, which includes: brushing at least twice daily, flossing every day, using toothpaste with fluoride, and do NOT use mouthwash with alcohol. The alcohol will dry out your mouth even more.
Don’t think your mouthwash has alcohol? Read the ingredients. Unless they specifically advertise that they do not all of them do!
Dry mouth treatment may include the use of some artificial saliva products that your doctor can recommend.
Some are available over the counter as sprays or rinses. There are also toothpastes and moisturizing gels especially formulated for people with dry mouth problems.
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