It really depends on what the patient is looking for. There are a range of pH neutralizing products such as a rinse, gel, mouth spray, lozenges and toothpaste. However, there are multiple other products available over-the-counter to consumers looking for relief of dry mouth. Not all pharmacies, drug stores, or even big box stores carry all of these products and therefore they may need to be ordered online.
Let’s begin with OTC rinses. I like to recommend fluoride mouthrinses (02%NaF). People with dry mouth do not have the buffering capacity as those with normal salivation, and are therefore more susceptible to developing caries. Adding this rinse into a patient’s daily self- care regimen will help reduce that dry mouth feeling with the added therapeutic effect of Fluoride. However, the patient does need to wait 30 minutes after use before eating and drinking to get the therapeutic effect of the fluoride. If the patient wants a fluoride-free rinse, there are several xerostomia rinses without fluoride that can be used throughout the day as needed to provide moisture to the oral cavity. Products containing hyaluronic acid may also help maintain electrolyte balance and hydration.
For on the go, patients have a range of products such as lozenges, gums, gel, and sprays.
The most important thing when looking for a lozenge or a gum is to make sure it is sugar free. I would also recommend looking for a product where xylitol is among the first ingredients on the list. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that has shown to be non-cariogenic and even anti-cariogenic and has claims in reducing the populations of mutans streptococci. Lozenges are different than chewing gums or mints, as they are not meant to be chewed, but placed in the mouth and allowed to dissolve over time. Chewing gums are meant to be chewed throughout the day. Be sure to read the directions on the individual labels. For chewing gums and lozenges that contain xylitol, it is important to keep those products out of the reach of pets, as xylitol is toxic to animals. For patients who would prefer a gel or spray to moisturize their oral cavity again I would recommend a sugar-free product that contains xylitol as a main ingredient.
Providing patients with information on where they can purchase each product is important, because although these products are over the counter, they cannot all be purchased at the pharmacy. It is also important to educate your patient on the product’s active ingredients and what kind of therapeutic effect those products will have with your patient. This will allow you to customize the self-care plan for patients experiencing hyposalivation. Although none of the products are as beneficial as natural saliva, they can all be used to help your patients manage their dry mouth with some added therapeutic benefits. In addition, remind patients, to drink water regularly throughout the day and to limit snaking on sugary foods.