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Medications often the cause of dry mouth

July 10, 2009 | 10:19 am

Teeth Dry mouth is a common condition that can be hard to treat. A new survey from the Academy of General Dentistry found 91% of dentists believe that taking multiple medications causes most cases of dry mouth.

The survey, presented this week at the academy's annual meeting, involved 500 dentists. The dentists also suggested that aging, dehydration and salivary gland disease were causes of the disorder. Dry mouth is also known as xerostomia. It's caused by a decrease in salivary gland function and affects about 1 in 4 Americans. If left untreated, dry mouth can contribute to tooth decay.

"The number of xerostomia cases has increased greatly over time because people are taking more and more medications," said Cindy Kleiman, a dentist and expert on dry mouth, in a news release.

About 400 prescription medications are linked to dry mouth, including many antidepressants, painkillers, diuretics, antihistamines, tranquilizers and anti-hypertensives. Dry mouth can also be a symptom of a variety of diseases and medical disorders. People with dry mouth should discuss their symptoms with a dentist, according to experts.

The Academy of General Dentistry recommends these suggestions to alleviate dry mouth:

  • Brush and floss twice a day
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on non-citrus flavored or sour sugarless candy
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth
  • Use over-the-counter saliva substitutes
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid overly salty foods
  • Avoid citrus juices
  • Avoid dry foods
  • Breathe through your nose instead of your mouth as often as possible
  • Use moisturizer regularly on your lips
  • Sleep with a humidifier in your room to add moisture to the air
  • Visit your dentist regularly

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: 3D4medical.com

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