7: Xerostomia

Chapter 7


By the end of this chapter you should be able to:
1. Define xerostomia.
2. List reasons for its occurrence.
3. Explain ways of managing this condition.


Xerostomia is excessive dryness of the mouth.


Xerostomia is caused by insufficient oral secretions. A reduction in the amount or flow of saliva, which may occur for various reasons, causes the balance of the mouth to be upset, and contributes to dental disease.

There are a number of reasons why saliva may be reduced or why its flow varies, including:

  • Age – saliva production and flow diminish with age.
  • Prescription drugs – certain drugs used for allergies, asthma, depression, diabetes, epilepsy, high blood pressure, inflammatory conditions, infertility, nausea and Parkinson’s disease. (See also Chapter 8.)
  • Anxiety – many people will have experienced a dry mouth associated with panic – perhaps before a dental appointment or public speaking.
  • Acute illness – diarrhoea and vomiting can cause dehydration, resulting in a reduction in saliva production. Infectious diseases like mumps (inflammation of the parotid gland) have the same effect.
  • Mouth breathing – at night, or in people with malocclusion or chronic sinus problems.
  • Salivary calculi – calcified stones, which are stored in salivary ducts.
  • Sjögren’s syndrome – associated with autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, in which the lubrication of mucous membranes is drastically reduced. Patients often complain of dry eyes as well as a dry mouth.
  • Radiotherapy (for cancer) – to the head and neck can cause a reduction i/>
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Jan 4, 2015 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on 7: Xerostomia
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