Medications and Dry Mouth: What’s the Connection?

Did you know medications are the cause of more than 90% of dry mouth cases?

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition that results from reduced saliva flow. The condition is estimated to affect millions of people in the United States. Saliva is vital to everyday processes, such as tasting, swallowing, speech and digestion. It also helps protect against tooth decay, as well as bacterial, fungal and viral infections. The components of saliva protect teeth and oral soft tissues and facilitate speech and swallowing.

Dentist, Teeth, smile, patient, smile makeover, botox

There are hundreds of medications that can create dry mouth and the majority of these have an antiadrenergic/anticholinergic effect, which means they block certain functions of your body’s systems that aid in creating saliva/secretions. It’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the commonly used medications that can lead to dry mouth. These medications include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antidiarrheal drugs
  • Antihistamines
  • Antihypertensive drugs
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Bronchodilators
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diuretics
  • Pain medications, opiates in particular
  • Urinary incontinence drugs

Dry mouth increases your chances of getting cavities due to the lack of saliva. Saliva aids in washing away any food debris left in your mouth after eating. The enzymes in the saliva help break down food for proper digestion. Without the proper amount of saliva present, food doesn’t get broken down properly and sticks to your teeth easier, causing cavities. Saliva also contains bicarbonate, calcium and phosphate which neutralize plaque acidity and help rebuild and restore tooth enamel. Without saliva, your mouth is much more at risk for developing cavities and experiencing tooth decay.

Dentist, Teeth, smile, patient, smile makeover, botox

There are a few helpful practices you can incorporate in your routine if dry mouth is a daily occurrence. These include:

  • Brushing and flossing regularly
  • Saliva substitutes, such as Biotene
  • Staying hydrated with plenty of water
  • Sugar-free gum or mints

Depending on the severity of the patient’s dry mouth, other in-office dental treatments may be involved. If you have experienced dry mouth, give me a call at 251-344-4571 and let’s talk about how to best treat your condition.