Medications that cause dry mouth
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that 48.5 percent of the American public takes at least one prescription drug on a regular basis. The report went on to say that 21.7 percent of all Americans take three or more prescription medications, while 10.6 percent of the public takes more than five. As the prevalence of prescription drugs continues to rise, the number of people who suffer from the side effects also increases.
Dry mouth — or xerostomia — is one of the most common side effects associated with literally hundreds of different prescription and over-the-counter medications, in addition to numerous vitamins and dietary supplements. The main types of medications known to cause dry mouth include the following:
- High blood pressure medications
- Anti-inflammatories (nonsteroidal)
- Anti-anxiety agents
Xerostomia occurs when the interaction of medication prevents the salivary glands from producing enough saliva to adequately cleanse the mouth. The oral cavity then becomes too dry to sufficiently control the growth of plaque, and the ability to neutralize acids severely diminishes. As a result, the risk for developing a wide range of oral infections and diseases increases significantly. This includes everything from tooth decay (or caries), to gingivitis, oral candidiasis, periodontal disease, and more.
This is why it is so important for dental professionals to advise patients with dry mouth to be extremely thorough with their oral hygiene, and to stick to a low-sugar diet that lacks highly-acidic foods. The American Dental Association (ADA) is also trying to increase the public’s awareness by advising the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put warning labels on medications that are typically associated with xerostomia. That way, patients know about the risks for oral disease before using the drug — not after it develops.
In the meantime, patients who suffer from xerostomia can perform a number of at-home steps to decrease their level of dryness. These include:
- Drinking plenty of water and/or sugar-free beverages
- Avoiding caffeine at all costs (it only increases dryness)
- Staying away from spicy or salty foods that irritate the mouth
- Avoiding tobacco and alcoholic beverages
- Chewing sugarless gum and/or suck on sugarless candies
- Using an antimicrobial mouthrinse on a daily basis
- Using prescription toothpastes that are high in fluoride
- Sleeping with a humidifier in the room
Common brands of medications that cause dry mouth
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