Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dry Mouth May Be Your Medications, Not Dehydration

In our August Newsletter we discussed the importance “dry mouth” and indicators that could impact your dental and oral hygiene. Of course many of us experience “cotton mouth” and dehydration during summer months. Obviously the dry heat and hot temperatures imposed by desert living can exacerbate the condition.

Nevertheless, what many patients do not realize, particularly if they do not read the fine print of prescribed medications, is that the very pharmaceuticals they ingest may be the cause “dry mouth” and have negative consequences on their oral diagnosis and dental visits.

According to a Drug Topics article in Modern Medicine Network this condition is raising awareness among dentists, and now “pharmacy and dental organizations are uniting to promote oral health and raise public awareness of dry mouth, a side effect commonly caused by taking prescription and over-the-counter medications.”

There are multiple issues that can occur, such as:

  • Decrease in saliva production, which is necessary to breaking down food, washing away excess particles in the mouth and maintaining proper oral health.
  • Patients who lack proper saliva production are at risk for developing xerostomia
  • Dry mouth contributes to cavities that are formed along the gum line
  • Over time, xerostomia can cause bad breath, erosion of enamel, decay and gingivitis.

The article released on August, 22, 2011 reveals an alliance between several associations to heighten professional and public awareness of this condition and the associated oral risks, which include

  • The American Pharmacists Association (APhA)
  • American Dental Association (ADA)
  • Academy of General Dentistry (AGD)
  • American Academy of Periodontology (AAP)

They are all collaborating to expand awareness of the impact of medications on dry mouth, a condition known to health professionals as xerostomia.

They proclaimed more than 500 medications can contribute to oral dryness and stated that nearly 50% of all Americans regularly take at least one prescription medication which produces “dry mouth” daily. In addition, more than 90% of these patients are adults over age 65.

Saliva is essential for maintaining oral health and studies show that “at least 25 million Americans have inadequate salivary flow or composition and lack the cleansing and protective functions saliva provides.”

The aligning dental and pharmacy organizations suggest that patients who experience dry mouth schedule dental exams to be evaluated and treated. They are also advised to alert their dentists of up-to-date prescribed medications with each visit to ensure proper care is provided to prevent dental damage and oral health risks.