Management Strategies for Patients with Xerostomia (Dry Mouth).
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Objective: To discuss management strategies for patients presenting in the clinical setting with xerostomia (dry mouth). Xerostomia is a multifactorial problem and many times it is disabling for the individual and challenging to manage. A 66 year old Caucasian female presented to the dental hygiene clinic with a chief complaint of “constant dry mouth.” The patient’s medical history indicated a previous habit of smoking along with a current history of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and oral candidiasis infection. Contributing factors to the patient’s dry mouth include: the use of a CPAP machine at night, oxygen during the day, and two prescription medications whose side effects cause dry mouth (Zoloft and Spiriva). Upon examination this patient was determined to be high caries risk and evidence of a new carious lesion was found on the mesial aspect of tooth #27. The iteration of meticulous home care is an important role of the clinician in order to alleviate discomfort, taste disturbances, sore mouth, and to prevent future decay and candidiasis infections. Other recommendations that were given in order to combat dry mouth included: use of high fluoride toothpaste (PreviDent 5000), ACT dry mouth rinse, and ACT dry mouth lozenges. It is also important for this patient to drink eight glasses of water a day, avoid sugar containing beverages, and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate salivation. The patients’ overall quality of life can be improved if clinicians are able to properly recognize xerostomia and recommend personalized management routines.