The medical name for dry mouth is xerostomia, or the absence of saliva. Xerostomia is usually the result of certain autoimmune diseases, chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer, and endocrine or nerve conditions. Saliva contains enzymes that protect the teeth from cavities and initiate food digestion. Ultimately, the cause of xerostomia should be treated because an absence of saliva can lead to tooth decay and malnutrition. Medication remedies for dry mouth are available to alleviate the condition.
Two prescription medications are classified solely to increase saliva production, according to Drugs.com. Pilocarpine, or Salagen, as well as cevimeline, or Evoxac, are saliva stimulants that impact the central nervous system. Most frequently used for xerostomia caused by cancer treatments and the autoimmune condition Sjogren’s syndrome, these medications can cause excessive sweating in conjunction with increased saliva. Taken three times daily, these drugs will treat the dry mouth symptom but not the underlying cause.
Most frequently, xerostomia is a syndrome caused by a prescription medication. Listed as a frequent side effect of over 400 medications, xerostomia may be cured by choosing an alternate medication, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation. A physician can prescribe a chemically different version of the medication a patient currently uses that will provide the same end result.
Rather than stimulating natural saliva production, some individuals choose to relieve dry mouth with artificial saliva formulations. Many over-the-counter products are available as gels, sprays and liquids, including the brand names Moi-Stir, Optimoist and Saliva Substitute. The University of Illinois at Chicago also recommends making a saliva solution at home composed of water and glycerin. Although this home mixture does not contain the enzymes of saliva, the glycerin is a common ingredient in OTC preparations and provides a degree of moisture and comfort within the mouth.