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Xerostomia refers to dry mouth which results when there is a decrease in salivary secretion or an alteration in the quality of saliva due to the impairment of salivary gland function. It is a common condition and is different from the mouth dryness which occurs during fear and stress.
The following symptoms may be evident in patients with xerostomia:
There are multiple causes for the dry mouth of which the most common causes include:
Xerostomia is more common in older individuals as they tend to use multiple medicines. However, dry mouth is not linked with ageing. Smoking and use of removable dentures are the factors which make a person more prone to develop dry mouth.
Xerostomia can lead to the following complications if a timely treatment is not provided:
Diagnosis begins after taking a complete medical history of the patient along with the symptoms. Dry mouth is usually diagnosed clinically. Physical examination mainly includes checking for the insufficient pooling of saliva around or under the tongue, presence of cavities near the necks of the teeth at the gumline and parched or fissured tongue. Some of the tests which may be performed include:
Sometimes a biopsy or tissue sample of the salivary gland is performed if a cancer is suspected. The doctor will take a sample of the suspected tissue and examine it under the microscope to check for abnormalities.
Treatment of xerostomia is based on the cause and may include the below approaches:
Some of the self-care measures which can help to prevent xerostomia are as follows:
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