- What causes dry mouth
- Saliva and it’s role with dry mouth
- GC Dry Mouth Gel
- Product recommendation
Michelle Strange: A Tale of Two Hygienists presents this week’s TIPisode: Quick and easy tips to keep you up to date and presented by the experts in the profession. Now, get ready for your unofficial TIPisode.
Kris Potts: Welcome to TIPisode. This is Kris Potts, and this episode is about dry mouth and finding relief.
I know firsthand how dry mouth can affect the quality of life. I’ve suffered for years from dry mouth mostly due to polypharmacy allergy medications. I’ve been a caregiver to loved ones going through oncology treatment, and I am myself a survivor. But we’ve all seen the impact dry mouth has on the oral cavity.
It used to be that there were only one or two products on the market for dry mouth, and to be honest, they weren’t very good. Thank goodness we have more options today. One of my favorites is GC Dry Mouth Gel. It becomes not so much a matter of a product being right or wrong or good or bad. It’s more a matter of being able to offer choices to our patients.
Now, the symptoms of dry mouth will vary greatly due to the underlying cause in between each individual. Those symptoms change over time, especially with cancer patients. Dry mouth is very transient and is affected by a lot of factors. What that means is that proper treatment can involve multiple therapies.
Some of the most common risk factors for dry mouth are medications. There are over 1800 drugs and 80 different classifications out there. Then there are autoimmune diseases like diabetes, Sjogren’s, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, and central nervous system disorders like Alzheimer’s, stroke, Parkinson’s. There’s oncology treatment, both chemo and radiation, kidney dialysis, transplant patients, gastric reflux disease, over consumption of caffeine, and age. This is mostly due to the polypharmacy aspect.
Individuals over the age of 65 take an average of 4 medications a day; a patient in assisted care takes an average of 8. The medications for comfort care at the end of life are very drying, but patients have that need to speak, converse with their family, and be comfortable during this transition.
Other factors that can cause dry mouth are mouth breathing, sleep apnea and the use of CPAPs, smoking or vaping, seasonal allergies and the medications that are used to relieve symptoms, asthma medications, hospitalizations, even out-patient surgery.
Now, most people equate dry mouth with being thirsty, so patients, caregivers, and even professionals automatically think that drinking more water is the answer. Drinking water with meals is great, and yes there’s a need to hydrate, but constantly sipping water throughout the day can be counter productive to hydrating the oral tissues and to the balance of the oral flora. That’s mainly because water does not replace saliva.
Saliva performs a multitude of roles in the oral cavity. It contains salivary amylase that helps break down food, and that enables us to taste proteins, complex carbohydrates, or fats. All the good stuff. Water does absolutely nothing to improve taste, and water usually has a low pH. You’ve probably seen some of those videos of pH tests performed on common bottled waters. Some of them are very acidic.
Salivary mucins are present that provide protection to the mucosa, creates a slipperiness. It lubricates the oral tissues.
Saliva also buffers acids from dental plaque, food, and drinks. It also helps us clean material from the oral cavity and prevents erosion.
Now, being suspended in saliva reduces the ability of strep mutans to form biofilms, and that is one of the things that makes saliva one of the protective factors that we look for in a caries risk assessment.
When recommending products, you’ve got to know your why, and there’s some important questions that you need to ask. One, is the product designed to provide symptom relief, moisture, promote healing, prevent or reduce decay? It makes a difference. For the discomfort and symptom relief, GC’s Dry Mouth Gel is great, and it comes in five flavors like raspberry, fruit salad, mint, lemon, and orange.
Another question is does the patient have salivary flow? Is it just reduced or totally absent like in a patient that has had head and neck radiation therapy? That will determine if a salivary stimulant or a salivary substitute is indicated. GC Dry Mouth Gel will help stimulate salivary flow.
What is the pH of the saliva? Have you done the testing? The acidity of the saliva may be a factor in an increased rate of decay. GC Dry Mouth Gel has a neutral pH.
Another question is does the product contain citric acid? Citric acid is often used for flavoring in dry mouth products but would not be ideal for a mouth with an already acidic environment. GC’s Dry Mouth Gel contains no citric acid.
What about the other ingredients? Does the product contain other sugars that may promote decay? A new product I saw recently contained sucralose, and another had organic cane sugar. GC Dry Mouth gel is sugar free.
How often can the product be used? Do the directions say no more than three times a day or can be used as needed? GC Dry Mouth Gel can be used to help with eating, taking medications because it’s totally safe to ingest it. It can be used at night while they’re sleeping or to lubricate the tissue for someone that wears dentures. It’s really easy to use. It can be applied with a fingertip, a cotton tip applicator, toothbrush, or just run it around the mouth with your tongue.
Now, palatability directly affects patient compliance. If they don’t like it, they aren’t going to use it, and it’s not doing anyone any good. Did I happen to mention that GC Dry Mouth Gel is very pleasant tasting and comes in raspberry, mint, orange, fruit salad, or lemon?
GC Dry Mouth Gel is not over the counter, but it is available through dental offices, and it’s comparably priced with similar products.
So, of all the things that we’ve mentioned today, GC Dry Mouth Gel covers a lot of the bases. It relieves the discomfort of dry mouth, it lubricates the oral mucosa to help with eating and speaking, it stimulates salivary flow if the glands are functioning, it’s safe to ingest, it can also be used to help swallow medication, it has a neutral pH, it’s easy to use, and it’s sugar free.
GC also has other products available to help with remineralization of the tooth enamel to strengthen the teeth, decrease decay and sensitivity that often comes with prolonged dry mouth.
I encourage you to go to GC’s website, gcamerica.com, and look under “products” and under “preventive” and find out more about GC Dry Mouth Gel.
Michelle Strange: We hope you enjoyed this week’s TIPisode. Be sure to reach out to our guest experts and let them know how helpful their tips were. Follow A Tale of Two Hygienists on Facebook, Instagram, and head over to ataleoftwohygienists.com and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also email us at [email protected], and keep listening for more awesome content from your unofficial dental hygiene podcast.