We all have mouths, and I'm betting at one time or another, yours has probably felt dry. It happens to just about all of us from time to time. Yet some of us experience dryness in our mouths much more frequently than others, and to the point where it becomes problematic. Lets take a look at exactly what 'Dry Mouth' is, how it relates to Methadone, and my own attempts to fix the problem.
Xerostomia (ZEER-oh-STOH-mee-ah) is the medical term for the problem known more commonly as Dry Mouth. As I mentioned above, many people experience dry mouth at one point or another, yet some of us run into it frequently. But what exactly is happening inside the mouth when this occurs?
According to the F.D.A, there are three salivary glands in the mouth tasked with producing saliva. As you might have guessed, when those glands aren't making as much saliva as they should be, the mouth becomes dry. Simple enough, right?
Sip Water? Check. Plenty of checks.
Avoid Irritants? Mostly Check... (No Alcohol or Caffiene. C'mon, that's not bad!)
Blah Blah Sugar-free? um... Nope. Not even close.
Avoid Salty/Spicy Foods? Sometimes...
Use a Humidifier? Never a night without it. I mean never.
With those changes made, I was still experiencing horrible dry mouth at night. Not to mention the fact that I had already killed one humidifier, and the current model is beginning to make a terrible noise (I think it's begging to be put down).
Certain drugs make the problem of Dry Mouth much worse, and as you probably guessed, Methadone is absolutely one of them. But it certainly isn't the only medication known to cause dry-mouth. The list is long...
Prior to starting Methadone, Dry Mouth was never really a huge problem for me. I mean, sure, at times I did experience dry mouth like anybody else, but it certainly wasn't something I would have labelled as problematic. That all changed once I started Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT)...
I can't speak for my fellow MMT patients, but in my case, 'dry mouth' is a serious understatement. Generally speaking, Dry Mouth only becomes an issue for me throughout the night. When I am awoken throughout the night by this problem, it isn't because my mouth is a tad dry. It's as though my mouth has never seen a drop of saliva in its life. I'm talking straight up arid desert conditions going on in there. It is not uncommon for me to be woken up throughout the night because entire mouth is so dry, breathing feels unnatural and swallowing is just impossible. Try as I might, producing the saliva necessary to compensate for the massive drought occurring in my mouth is an impossible task. The humidifier is an absolute must, and has never had a night off since it left the box. Rinsing my mouth with cold water is necessary to get relief. Even still, immediately after that drink I can already feel the dryness ready to creep back as soon as the temporary relief of the water slips down my throat. And it always does.
The mouthwash itself is mostly clear in colour with a very slight cloudiness, and has a consistency similar to that of water. The smell is reminiscent of a Dental office, and so is the taste. However considering I was warned by someone about how terrible they thought the flavour was, I was pleasantly surpised. It certainly isn't anything overly potent or terrible, but that 'flouride/dentist' flavour is definitely present. I admittedly water my nightly mouthful down slightly to make it a little more pleasant.
Surprisingly, I found the stuff worked quite well. The first time I used it was sabout mid-day, just to get an idea of the taste and to check it out. Immediately after rinsing with the Biotene, I noticed that my mouth felt much more lubricated and comfortable. Now, I personally use it every night before bed, right after I brush my teeth. I admittedly still always sleep with the humidifier on, and stay away from caffeine and alcohol, but I am no longer awoken throughout the night due to severe dry mouth. Now, am I able generally able to get through the night without discomfort.
While it certainly isn't the perfect fix, it resulted in a major improvement for me. Of course, this is just my personal experience as a Methadone patient who deals with dry mouth as a side effect (Biotene isn't compensating me in any way, shape or form). Overall though, I would recommend it if you are in search of way to combat your own medicine mouth.
What's a Methadone Patient to do?
Clearly I can't t just stop taking my methadone on a whim, and I am not about to take another prescription medication to fight the side effects of... a medication. Time to start exploring my options.
The F.D.A has a page about Dry Mouth that includes this fancy little graphic along with their recommendations.
But Saliva is important stuff, and without it a mouth can run into all kinds of problems.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research explains that saliva not only helps us digest the food we eat, but it also makes it possible for us to chew and swallow it in the first place. That's not all though; saliva also helps protect our teeth from decay, and helps to regulate various bacteria and fungi in our mouths, therefore preventing infection. Told you it's important stuff.
I had heard of a line of products called 'Biotene' from a few different people. All of them claimed it was helpful, but I was skeptical and never bothered to try it. In the Fall of last year, a fellow blogger wrote a post on Methadone Myths which addressed the issue of Methadone and dental health, and followed it up with a reader review of the 'Biotene' toothpaste. The review was a positive one, but again I never bothered to give it a try.
But while finishing up at my most recent dental appointment, the Dentist mentioned there was a product that could help with the dry mouth I was experiencing, and handed me a coupon for $2.00 off a Biotene product. With coupon in hand, I finally started considering this 'Biotene' stuff. Couldn't hurt, right?
There are several different products available, but I decided to go with the 473ml Biotene Moisturizing Mouthwash (Alcohol Free), which was priced at around $11.99CAD. For those interested in exactly what the product looks like, I have included a few photos.
By K. Lanktree
- Freelance Writer -
- Blog Mistress -
- Former IV Drug User -
- Methadone Patient -
- Lover of all things Harm Reduction -
Help keep 'Studio L' online by donating to help offset the costs! Thanks💋