Friday, June 29, 2012

Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation Patient Education Sheet: Simple Solutions for Treating Dry Mouth

Recently a friend asked me for suggestions in treating dry mouth which was caused by medications, not Sjogren's. I scrolled down through my side-bar on Reasonably Well to copy and send her the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation Patient Education sheet on dry mouth and realized.........that it wasn't there!

Good grief. The dry mouth patient education sheet should have been the very FIRST one on my sidebar!

So. Here it is, only about three years and 1,396 posts (really!) later:

Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation Patient Education Sheet
Simple Solutions for Treating Dry Mouth

Clinicians: Please make as many copies of this Patient Education Sheet as you want and distribute to your patients. 

The SSF thanks Frederick Vivino, MD, FACR, University of Pennsylvania, Penn Rheumatology Associates & Sjögren’s Syndrome Center, Philadelphia, for authoring “Simple Solutions for Treating Dry Mouth.”
  • Ask your family doctor to discontinue or provide substitutes for all medications that cause dry mouth.
  • Eat smaller, more frequent meals to stimulate saliva flow.
  • Increase your intake of liquids (e.g. water, diet soda) during the day. Small sips work best.
  • Minimize time in air-conditioned environments such as offices, supermarkets, airplanes, etc.
  • Use a humidifier at bedtime (target humidity 40-50%) during the fall and winter months when the air is dry to increase nighttime moisture and decrease discomfort.
  • Stop cigarette, cigar and pipe smoking to lessen dryness and your risk for other health problems.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on hard diabetic or sugar-free candies, fruit pits or lemon rinds to activate reflexes that will increase saliva. Look for products containing xylitol, a sweetner that may help prevent dental decay.
  • Try artificial salivas. Use 2-3 squirts in the mouth every hour while awake and at nighttime as needed. Do not spit out any preparation that is safe to swallow to help it last longer.
  • Avoid mouthwashes, fluoride rinses or products containing alcohol or witch hazel that can aggravate oral dryness or burning.
  • Apply vitamin E oil (use liquid or punch hole in capsules) or moisturing gels to dry or sore parts of the mouth or tongue. Use 2-3x/day after meals, at bedtime, when talking for long periods, exercising, or any other time your mouth needs long-lasting relief.

Contact the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation to obtain a copy of its Product Directory, available free of charge to all members.
For more information on Sjogren's syndrome, visit the SSF Web site at, call 1-800-475-6473, e-mail or write to the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation, 6707 Democracy Blvd, Suite 325, Bethesda, MD 20817.


Jennifer Swan Hopkins said...

Hello Julia,
I was diagnosed 16 years ago after a looong bout with Mono, at age 40.

While looking for information to share with my latest doctor on Sjogren's, I found your blog. Yayyyyyyyy! and, "THANK YOU"!

It is tempting to go on in great detail about my symptoms, journey... "me", but I'm not going to.

Instead, I'd like to ask something practical:

Aside from the SSI link, are there helps you have, or your readers have, to successfully go through the daunting application process?

Is there a "best" way to apply for disability? Do you have suggestions, step by step instructions, a path to follow that will help me maneuver those treacherous waters more easily (brain fog to the extreme here), any help would be so gratefully accepted.

With my level of mental "decline" I feel definitely daunted.

Thanks, Jennifer
(who just got told by this new doctor that my "homework" for the week was to start the application process as it was "way past high time to do so" after avoiding this path for so long...)

Julia Oleinik said...

Hi Jennifer -

First of all, we'd all love to hear all about you. Reasonably Well is more like a community rather than just a blog, so please share!

Here's a link to the Sjogren's syndrome foundation's fact sheet about SSI applications.

You can also find a link to this sheet on my sidebar. I would only add that it's vital that you include everything that this disease has changed for you in exquisite detail. Add additional sheets of paper to the application if needed - i did. I believe that over the last five to ten years, this process has been speeded up considerably, Also, be prepared to document everything, so having your doctor on board to assist in this process is a very good thing. I was asked to be assessed by a SSI physician in addition to my application, and had a copy of my app with me for that appointment so that I could answer questions accurately. Also, while I didn't slap on sackcloth and ashes, I didn't put on a great deal of make up either. I let me rashes and blotches and lesions just be as visible as they wanted to be.

In other words, be accurate, thorough, and honest. It'll be fine. Really. And let us know how it goes for you.