Dry mouth prevalence could rise dramatically in future

Dec. 7, 2006
Aging population, increasing medication use, and higher diabetes rates expected to contribute to problem.

PARSIPPANY, New Jersey--America's aging population, skyrocketing incidence of diabetes and increasing medication use are projected to contribute to a significant rise in dry mouth in coming years, say industry professionals.

Dentists and hygienists should be prepared to screen every patient for the condition, they advise, and help sufferers address its accompanying oral health ramifications. Research shows that caries, oral candidiasis and periodontal diseases can occur as the result of dry mouth, but the right treatments and vigilant oral care may help patients avoid the worst of these problems.

"Because dry mouth is linked to many health conditions and is a side effect of numerous medications, we can expect to see an increased incidence as the population ages," says Ronald Rupp, DMD, senior manager, professional relations for GlaxoSmithKline.

"A particular concern is diabetes, which comes with a host of oral health problems, including dry mouth or xerostomia, and is projected to increase by as much as 165 percent by the year 2050."

Experts say that approximately 64 percent of all dry mouth episodes have been associated with medication use. There are nearly 400 commonly prescribed medications associated with dry mouth, including antidepressants, anticholinergics, analgesics and anti-inflammatory agents.

Because of these links, the condition is now being observed in young and middle-aged patients on medication, in addition to the elderly population. Beyond diabetes, other common medical conditions, such as depression and arthritis, can contribute to dry mouth. Lifestyle factors such as stress and tobacco use can additionally aggravate the problem.

For patients with dry mouth, there are a number of preventive and palliative measures to help keep the mouth moist. Dental professionals can suggest patients avoid tobacco and caffeinated drinks and use a humidifier in their homes.

Oral moisturizing treatments, such as GlaxoSmithKline's Oasis, can help hydrate the mouth as well. The Oasis system includes a moisturizing mouthwash and moisturizing mouth spray, both of which provide moisturization for up to two hours, and are uniquely formulated to lock in moisture and prevent drying out.

Oasis Mouthwash can be used in the morning and at bedtime to cleanse and refresh the mouth, and should be used as part of a patient's daily oral care regimen. Oasis Mouth Spray provides immediate moisturization and can be used throughout the day and night for discreet, convenient relief of dry mouth symptoms.

The unique tri-hydra formulations of Oasis Mouthwash and Mouth Spray combine different polymers, humectants and water for optimum moisturization and mouth feel. This specially formulated polymer combination provides immediate and long-lasting help for dry mouth symptoms, such as oral dryness, speaking and eating difficulties and burning tongue. Oasis Mouthwash and Mouth Spray are safe for use with fluoride-treatment products and won't harm tooth enamel.

Both the Mouth Spray and Mouthwash have a mild mint flavor, and are sugar- and alcohol-free. Oasis Mouthwash is 16 oz. while Oasis Mouth Spray is 1 oz. Both are over-the-counter products, available at pharmacies and food stores nationwide.

"Dental professionals play a vital role in helping their patients maintain oral health while managing other systemic health conditions," states Lee Ann Catusco, RDH, associate brand manager, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare.

"The current population trends underscore how important it is that dentists and hygienists are prepared to identify and treat dry mouth. Recommending Oasis Mouthwash and Mouth Spray is an excellent first step in helping patients manage the bothersome symptoms of xerostomia."

For more information about Oasis or GlaxoSmithKline's other oral care products, visit www.dental-professional.com.