Baclofen (sold under the trade name Lioresol) is a medication that acts as a muscle relaxant and anti-spastic agent. Some of Baclofen’s primary uses are treating multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. One of the potential side effects of intrathecal Baclofen use (Baclofen injections into space around the spinal cord), one that is very rare, is Xerostomia. Xerostomia is also known as dry mouth or cotton mouth.
Xerostomia (dry mouth, cotton mouth) is a condition in which a person’s mouth produces little or no saliva. Besides the discomfort from the dryness, some of the immediate effects of an absence or reduction of saliva in dry mouth sufferers are difficulty swallowing, eating and talking. Dry mouth may also make it difficult to wear dentures.
For relief for dry mouth caused by intrathecal Baclofen use, sucking on sugarless hard candy or bits of ice or chewing gum may be sufficient. Any of these will moisten the mouth and stimulate the salivary glands. Biotene makes a special Xerostomia chewing gum that contains the same enzymes as saliva.
Guarding Against Xerostomia-Induced Dental Disease
Baclofen users who experience dry mouth for more than 2 weeks should consult with their physician or dentist. Untreated dry mouth increases the risk of experiencing dental disease, including tooth decay, gum disease and fungus infections.
One of the natural functions of saliva is to wash away harmful bacteria. These bacteria can cause dental disease if they remain in the mouth. When the salivary glands fail to produce or reduce the output of saliva, less bacteria is washed away and the risk of dental disease increases. To minimize the risk of dental disease, Baclofen users can use artificial saliva in the event that other means of stimulating the production of saliva prove insufficient. Artificial saliva, sold over the counter, is a product that mimics the effects of natural saliva. It comes in the form of sprays, swabs and solutions. Artificial saliva often contains fluoride or calcium to help guard the teeth from disease-promoting bacteria associated with natural saliva reduction.
Another product useful in protecting Xerostomia sufferers from dental disease is special toothpaste designed to reduce the bacteria in the mouth.
Maintaining Comfort When Suffering from Xerostomia
Although protection against dental disease is paramount for Baclofen users suffering long term dry mouth, comfort is also important.
Baclofen users can minimize some of the discomforting effects of dry mouth by sipping water regularly, avoiding breathing through their mouths and using a humidifier at night.
Baclofen users with dry mouth can also obtain some comfort by avoiding dehydrating substances such as sugary and caffeinated drinks, alcohol, tobacco products, and salty and spicy foods.