Dry mouth xerostomia

Xerostomia may be caused by a reduction in the secretion of saliva, a change in the composition of saliva, or a combination of these factors.

Xerostomia is associated with several other oral symptoms and problems, including oral discomfort, disturbance in taste, difficulty chewing, difficulty swallowing, difficulty speaking, difficulty in retaining dentures, dental caries, oral candidosis, and other oral infections. The various manifestations of xerostomia reflect the multiple functions of saliva.

The management of xerostomia involves treatment of the underlying cause and use of saliva stimulants or use of saliva substitutes. The choice of symptomatic treatment will depend on several factors, including the aetiology of the xerostomia, the patient's general condition, the presence or absence of teeth, and, most importantly, the patient's preference.

There are good theoretical reasons for prescribing saliva stimulants rather than saliva substitutes. Furthermore, in the studies that have compared both, patients have generally preferred the saliva stimulants. The management of dry mouth also involves oral hygiene measures and the use of fluoride supplements.

Acidic products are relatively contraindicated in dentate patients and should be used with caution in edentulous patients. A low pH predisposes to dental erosion, dental caries, and oral candidosis. It should be noted that some of the artificial salivas are acidic in nature.

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