When you have dry mouth, or xerostomia (say "zee-ruh-STO-mee-uh"), your mouth does not make enough saliva. Saliva helps you chew, swallow, and digest your food. It also neutralizes the acids that form in your mouth. If you have ongoing dry mouth, it can lead to mouth infections, gum disease, and tooth decay. It can also make it hard to swallow or talk.
Your doctor or dentist may diagnose dry mouth. It is often a side effect of medicines like diuretics, decongestants, and antidepressants. Cancer treatments or damage to the salivary glands can also cause dry mouth.
To help fight the effects of dry mouth, your dentist may apply extra fluoride to your teeth. This can help prevent tooth decay. He or she may also give you mouthwash to fight bacteria. You may need to have dental checkups more often. Treatment may include medicine to help you make more saliva. Or, if other medicines you take are making your mouth dry, your doctor may change the type or dosage of the medicine.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: February 10, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Arden Christen, DDS, MSD, MA, FACD - Dentistry & Steven K. Patterson, BS, DDS, MPH - Dentistry
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