Pharmacists, dentists raise awareness of medication-induced dry mouth

August 22, 2011

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.

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.

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA), American Dental Association (ADA), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), and American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) are collaborating to expand awareness of the impact of medications on dry mouth, a condition known to health professionals as xerostomia.

More than 500 medications can contribute to oral dryness. Nearly half of all Americans regularly take at least one prescription medication daily, including many that produce dry mouth, and more than 90% of adults over age 65 do the same. Because older adults frequently use one or more of these medications, they are considered at significantly higher risk of experiencing dry mouth.

While saliva is essential for maintaining oral health and quality of life, at least 25 million Americans have inadequate salivary flow or composition and lack the cleansing and protective functions saliva provides.

Dental and pharmacy organizations suggest that individuals with dry mouth have regular dental checkups for evaluation and treatment. They are advised to carry an up-to-date medication list at all times and to tell their dentists at each appointment the medications they are taking and other information about their health. In some cases, a different medication can be provided or the dosage modified to alleviate dry-mouth symptoms.