Medical

Accidental discovery may lead to new treatment for mouth dryness

Accidental discovery may lead ...
Chronic dry mouth often involves inflammation of the salivary glands, which an existing drug has been shown to reduce
Chronic dry mouth often involves inflammation of the salivary glands, which an existing drug has been shown to reduce
View 1 Image
Chronic dry mouth often involves inflammation of the salivary glands, which an existing drug has been shown to reduce
1/1
Chronic dry mouth often involves inflammation of the salivary glands, which an existing drug has been shown to reduce

Although we may all get a dry mouth from time to time, for some people it can be an ongoing debilitating condition. There could be new hope for such folks, however, thanks to a recent accidental discovery.

Along with being generally uncomfortable, chronic mouth dryness can also negatively affect a person's general health, the health of their teeth and gums, and their ability to taste, chew and swallow food. It can be caused by various medical conditions, treatment regimes and medications, or it may simply occur as part of the aging process.

Regardless of the cause, though, inflammation of the salivary glands is often a major contributing factor. Inflammation is also a problem in bacterial lung infections, which is why scientists at the University of South Alabama were recently looking at ways of reducing it. More specifically, they were using a drug known as roflumilast to inhibit the activity of inflammation-causing phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) enzymes in the infected lungs of mice.

Led by doctoral candidate Abigail Boyd, the researchers were surprised to discover that the medication caused increased salivation in the animals. Further analysis revealed that this was due to the inhibition of PDE4 in the salivary glands and in the autonomic nervous system, the latter of which regulates involuntary body processes.

Additional experiments showed that PDE4 inhibition also increased salivation in mice with cystic fibrosis, a disease in which inflammation not only affects patients' ability to breath, but also frequently gives them a dry mouth. The team now hopes to conduct trials on humans.

"Saliva, while often taken for granted, is indispensable for oral health and overall well-being," says Boyd. "New ways to treat dry mouth are needed since treatment options are currently limited."

The research is being presented this week, as part of the online annual meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

Source: Experimental Biology via EurekAlert

4 comments
4 comments
Christian Lassen
Almost all causes of dry mouth I see in patients are due to the medications they are taking, especially SSRI's. Meds for Depression, Anxiety, Sleep are among the most common offenders. Thyroid meds next. Long term pain meds can play a part and meds for cholesterol/high blood pressure, not so much, but still there, depending on the type.

And docs NEVER EVER warn their patients of that side effect. I have patients who won't have a cavity or dental work needed for 20-30 years, suddenly start needing tons of dental work within 2-3 yrs of starting a new medication, sometimes even within just a few months of it.

Healthy Saliva is so important for teeth, probably the single most important factor. Diet and Hygiene next, though they can make up a LOT of the difference, if not all of it.
1stClassOPP
Hey, I need something for my dry mouth problem, especially at night, as I often wake up through the night to sip water from a straw in a jar. I’ve tried various liquids to no avail. I also tried Biotene and other so called remedies, again to no avail.it would be nice to finally have something that works.
Eggster
1stClassOPP - Have you considered that you might have sleep apnea? They go hand in hand, and only at night.
1stClassOPP
@eggster; yup, been checked for apnea, - negative. I think it may run in my family, as my late mother often complained of “dry mouth “