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Are there any prescription treatments for dry mouth?


Dry mouth is a condition in which a person's mouth produces little or no saliva. Since saliva is a natural lubricant, people with dry mouth may have trouble eating, swallowing, talking, and wearing dentures. With less saliva to wash away bacteria and other microbes, people with dry mouth are at higher risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and infections in the mouth.

Causes of dry mouth

Many people develop dry mouth as a side effect from drugs, including antihypertensives, antidepressants, and antianxiety agents. Medical conditions that can cause dry mouth include Sjogren's syndrome (a condition in which the salivary glands are destroyed) and uncontrolled diabetes. Radiation therapy to the face or neck can cause severe cases.

Treatments for dry mouth

Over-the-counter saliva substitutes and non-drug therapies such as chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy are the primary therapies for dry mouth.

When these treatments aren't effective, doctors may recommend prescription drugs:

  • Evoxac® (cevimeline) is a newly approved drug for treating dry mouth. In studies involving people with Sjogren's syndrome, Evoxac® reduced dry mouth symptoms in about 75% of those who used it. The most common side effects of Evoxac® are excessive sweating, headaches, blurred vision, stuffy nose, and nausea.
  • Salagen® (pilocarpine), a prescription tablet, can also be used to treat dry mouth. In studies, most people had significant relief of dry mouth symptoms. Each dose of Salagen® increases salivary-gland output for up to two hours. The most common side effects of Salagen® include sweating, headache, cough, fever, and nausea.

People with uncontrolled asthma or eye conditions such as glaucoma or eye infections should not use Evoxac® or Salagen®.

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