Medications for Dry Mouth

Severe dry mouth in Sjögren’s syndrome results from the body’s inability to produce sufficient amounts of saliva. Not only is the condition uncomfortable and painful, it could also lead to serious dental problems like cavities or infections like gingivitis (gum inflammation).

Strategies to address the dry mouth of Sjögren’s include:

  • chewing sugarless gum or hard candies to boost saliva.
  • using over-the-counter, artificial saliva drops.
  • sipping water or other fluids regularly.
  • spraying dry noses with saline spray to discourage the mouth breathing that often accompanies colds or allergies.
  • If these remedies aren't effective, your doctor may prescribe oral medications called cholinergic agonists, including pilocarpine (Salagen) and cevimeline (Evoxac). In addition, a prescription product called Numoisyn, available as either a liquid or a lozenge, can mimic saliva and lubricate dry mouths.

It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene if you have Sjögren’s syndrome to prevent serious oral disease, including:

  • brushing and flossing teeth daily.
  • using fluoride or antimicrobial mouthwash daily.
  • visiting the dentist twice a year.

Dryness in Other Areas

If you experience vaginal dryness due to Sjögren’s syndrome, over-the-counter vaginal lubricants, inserts and moisturizers may ease discomfort and make sexual intercourse less painful. Be sure to use only water-soluble vaginal lubricants, not petroleum jelly or other oil-based products that may trap moisture, encourage infections and deteriorate condoms.

To prevent dry skin in other areas of the body, try these strategies:

  • bathe or shower using warm, rather than very hot, water.
  • avoid soaking your hands in water or cleaning solutions when washing dishes.
  • after bathing, pat skin dry softly with a towel, rather than rubbing.
  • apply moisturizers or lotions all over the skin just after bathing or swimming.
  • use rubber gloves during cleaning chores.

Stronger Medications for Sjögren’s

Some people with Sjögren’s syndrome may need stronger drugs to address their disease, particularly if there are serious systemic symptoms affecting the lungs, kidneys or skin, or if they experience joint pain, rashes, fever or abdominal pain. These drugs are being evaluated for use in Sjögren’s syndrome, and may include:

  • hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil),an antimalarial drug.
  • corticosteroids, like prednisone, which mimic cortisol, a hormone the body produces to control immune response.
  • disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate (Rheumatrex), azathioprine (Imuran), mycophenolate (Cellcept) or cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan). These drugs stop the disease’s progress by suppressing the immune system response.