Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a common condition found in a variety of patients and can be caused by disease, medications, or even as a result of psychological concerns. Xerostomia is a significant reduction in the regular production of saliva causing varying degrees of drying, reddening, and cracking of the mouth and oral cavity. This condition can lead to severe discomfort, dental issues, and nutritional problems.
Left untreated, xerostomia can cause difficulty with speaking, eating, inflammation and fissure of the lips (cheilitis), ulcers, oral candidiasis, and halitosis. Prolonged effects can also include degradation of the teeth and soft oral tissues leading to caries and infection.
Common causes of xerostomia include conditions such as Parkinson's, Diabetes, and Sjogrens Syndrome, certain medications and polypharmacy among others. An estimated 20% of the elderly population is affected by persistent dry mouth.
Treatments for xerostomia vary based on the indicated cause and can include modifications to medication regimens, oral rinses, increasing salivary flow, and regular daily oral hygiene.