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Early Detection and Treatment of Xerostomia

Xerostomia, or perceived dry mouth, has a broad range of prevalence, ranging from 5.5% to 65%, while also considered under-reported by patients and under-recognized by practitioners. As such, it is important for oral health professionals to remain well-versed in xerostomia, its etiologies, and its diagnosis. Oral health professionals should be confident in assessing patients for xerostomia and providing strategies to improve quality of life for those with this common condition.


True dry mouth is related to salivary gland hypofunction (SGH) and may be caused by which of the following?

Mumps / Parotid Gland Sickness graphic decade3d / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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The simplest cause of xerostomia is dehydration, yet the most common cause is polypharmacy.

Background of a large group of assorted capsules, pills and blisters apomares / E+
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Typical salivary production ranges from 0.5 liters to 1.5 liters daily.

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Dental hygienists are prepared to clinically detect xerostomia, often identifying its presence long before a patient reports it.

Portrait of young female dentist with patient in the dental office. Doctor wearing glasses, mask, white uniform and pink gloves. anatoliy_gleb / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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While chewing stimulates salivary flow, only gums that do not contain xylitol should be used.

Taking chewing gum Eva-Katalin / E+
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Systemic sialogogues, such as pilocarpine and cevimeline, are highly effective at returning salivary flow, yet they have significant extended effects such as excessive sweating, nausea, rhinitis, chills, flushing, and excessive urination.

Frustrated young woman suffering from the headache while sitting on the sofa at home with an expression of being unwell, with eyes closed. PixelsEffect / E+
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Early Detection and Treatment of Xerostomia
Not bad, but there’s room to grow when it comes to understanding early detection and treatment of xerostomia. Consider reading more about this important facet of dental hygiene care. Good luck!
Well done! Continue to study early detection and treatment of xerostomia. You’ve got this!
Congrats! You understand the importance of early detection and treatment of xerostomia. Get out there and put your know-how to good use!

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This information is from the article Xerostomia Diagnosis and Management by Melanie V. Taverna, MSDH. To read the article, click here.
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