Treatment for Dry Mouth
Treatment for dry mouth depends on what is causing the problem. Generally, treatment of a dry mouth focuses on three areas:
- Managing underlying medical conditions causing the dry mouth
- Preventing tooth decay
- Increasing the flow of saliva, if possible
Managing Underlying Causes of Dry Mouth
If dry mouth is caused by something like medication -- it is a common side effect of drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies (antihistamines and decongestants), diarrhea, urinary incontinence, and Parkinson's disease -- your dentist or doctor will consider making a change. That may mean trying a different medication or adjusting the dosage.
However, if the underlying medical condition causing the dry mouth cannot be changed – for example, if the salivary gland has been damaged from radiation or chemotherapy treatments or is a consequence of a disease itself (for example, Sjögren's syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, stroke) treatment will focus on ways to increase saliva flow (see below).
Preventing Tooth Decay Due to Dry Mouth
Not only does saliva help digest food and make it possible for you to chew and swallow, it is the natural mouth cleanser. Without saliva, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely to occur. If you have a dry mouth, to combat tooth decay and gum disease, you need to be extra careful about following good oral hygiene habits, which consist of:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, but even more preferably, after every meal and before bedtime
- Flossing your teeth every day
- Using a toothpaste that contains fluoride
- Visiting your dentist for a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year; your dentist may recommend daily use of a fluoride rinse or fluoride gel to keep your teeth healthy.
Learn more about tooth decay