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by Abigail Van Buren

Quick Relief for Dry Mouth Brings Smiles to Many Lips

DEAR ABBY: Several years ago, I read in your column about people having a problem with dry mouth.

I failed to keep the article in which you kindly offered information about my problem. Please print it again, and this time, I will make a note of the solution. I've read of other remedies, but I believe your information was the best. -- SPITTING COTTON

DEAR SPITTING COTTON: The column to which you referred was printed in October 1987, but here it is again:

DEAR ABBY: A while back you recommended a "saliva substitute" for people who suffer from dry mouth. Having suffered from that condition for two years, I went immediately to the pharmacy and asked for a saliva substitute. The pharmacist said she had never heard of such a product and told me to ask my dentist what the brand name was.

I called my dentist, and he had never heard of a saliva substitute either. Abby, can you tell me the name of this product and where it can be purchased? -- NEEDS IT IN ILLINOIS

DEAR NEEDS: I had no idea that the problem of "dry mouth" was so widespread until I mentioned it in my column and was promptly deluged with letters from readers seeking relief from that condition.

There are at least four brands of saliva substitutes on the market today. Ask your pharmacist to check the Annual Pharmacists' Reference Red Book, Facts and Comparisons, or Physicians' Desk Reference for Non-Prescription Drugs under "Saliva Substitutes."

Readers, for your information, "xerostomia" (dry mouth) can be caused by disease, medication, radiation therapy or the normal aging process. This condition can cause acute discomfort, tooth decay, inability to eat, swallow or talk, as well as difficulty in wearing dentures.

If your pharmacist has never heard of it and doesn't know where to get saliva substitutes, find another pharmacist.