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Dry Mouth

Clinical Overview

Reviewed by: Dr. Kristen Dority

When lack of moisture in the mouth becomes persistent, it is labeled by the Latin term xerostomia or dry mouth. The condition results when too little saliva is produced by the salivary glands. Aging is associated with dry mouth, although probably does not cause it directly. Rather, systemic diseases including rheumatoid conditions, dysfunctional immune system problems like AIDS, hormonal disorders such as diabetes, and neurologic disorders like Parkinson's and Alzheimer’s diseases tend to be associated with the condition. Also, problems that decrease patient’s chewing ability and result in a liquid or soft food diet can decrease the flow of saliva, as can the surgical removal of salivary glands. Finally, radiation therapy as well as over 400 drugs including decongestants, diuretics, antihypertensives, antidepressants, and antihistamines can produce a dry mouth.

Last updated: May-03-07

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