Dry mouth, or xerostomia, occurs when a person doesn’t create enough saliva. This issue can affect the overall health of the teeth and gums, and it can hinder the enjoyment of eating food. Depending on the root of the problem, there are many types of treatments available. There also are many dry mouth products that will help with the symptoms, such as prescription medicines that stimulate saliva production, special toothpastes and mouthwashes and over-the-counter saliva substitutes. Other dry mouth products include mouth moisturizers, including lozenges, chewing gum, drops and sprays.
There are several common causes for chronic dry mouth. Some people are affected by their medications. Dry mouth is a side effect of many types of medicines and treatments, such as antihistamines, decongestants, chemotherapy drugs, anti-depression and anti-anxiety prescriptions and high blood pressure medicines. Others suffer from dry mouth because they have nerve damage in their head or neck areas. People who snore, breathe with their mouths open or use tobacco also are at risk for dry mouth problems.
Some dry mouth sufferers can relieve the problem simply by switching medications or by changing certain lifestyle habits. If that is not an option, some healthcare providers prescribe saliva-producing stimulant prescriptions for patients who have extreme dry mouth. The most common types of these are cevimeline and pilocarpine hydrochloride. These dry mouth products work to increase salivary flow rate and volume, and they increase protein output from a person’s salivary glands.
Over-the-counter saliva substitutes are other types of dry mouth products. Unlike saliva-producing prescriptions, saliva substitutes mimic natural saliva but do not stimulate gland production. They work to lubricate the mouth and replace moisture. Most of these types of products have hydroxyethylcellulose or carboxymethylcellulose, fluoride and flavoring. They might come in swab, liquid or spray form.
Many people are not aware that the standard, alcohol-based mouthwashes actually can contribute to dry mouth problems. There are many dry mouth products available that come in mouthwash and toothpaste forms. These products are created by a wide variety of manufacturers, and they typically have active enzyme ingredients. They work to relieve oral irritations caused by dry mouth problems and do not contain sodium lauryl sulfate, which can make dry mouth symptoms worse.
Other popular dry mouth products include lozenges, chewing gum and drops. These products are similar to candy or cough drops, except that their purpose is to protect the teeth and gums from drying out. They also work to ease the painful symptoms of dry mouth and to stimulate saliva flow.