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If drugs are drying your mouth....

If drugs are drying your mouth. . .

Many prescribed drugs reduce the production of saliva--the mouth's first line of defense against tooth decay. Athena Papas of Tufts University in Boston has now correlated saliva flow with tooth decay in 60 people taking such medications.

Papas, who plans to present her findings next week at the International Association for Dental Research conference in Acapulco, Mexico, reports that drug-induced dry mouth can double a person's risk of developing surface cavities and triple the risk of root decay.

Among the more commonly used drugs that can cause dry mouth, antipsychotics for treating schizophrenia show the greatest mouth-drying effect, with antidepressants and ulcer drugs at the middle of the scale and antihistamines near the bottom, Papas says.

"What's tragic is that most people on medication don't know they're dry," because their rate of saliva flow slows so gradually, she says. Their dentists usually miss the problem too, since the dental examination itself spurs saliva production. Papas notes that dry-mouthed patients can help combat cavities by chewing gum -- preferably sugarless -- to increase their saliva flow.
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Title Annotation:prescription drug-induced dry mouth can double the risk of tooth decay
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 13, 1991
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