Dry mouth or Xerostomia is defined as a 'subjective sensation of dryness in the mouth'. It occurs either because of a reduction in the quantity of saliva produced or a change in its composition. It predominantly affects the middle aged and elderly people with an estimated prevalence of 21% and 27% in men and women respectively. Common causes of xerostomia include medications with antimuscarinic properties, radiotherapy for head and neck cancer, uncontrolled diabetes and specific diseases of the salivary glands. Xerostomia can be debilitating and primarily affects the middle aged and elderly population. Patients with xerostomia often complain of a dry and sticky sensation in the mouth, which causes them considerable difficulty to chew dry food. They may also present with a decrease in taste sensation and discomfort wearing dentures.
Some of the symptoms of Dental caries,Acid erosion,Oral candidiasis,Dysgeusia,Dysphagia,Fissured tongue etc. However, sometimes the clinical findings do not correlate with the symptoms experienced.
Xerostomia is a subjective complaint-symptom of dry mouth. It may be or may be not associated with objectively measured hyposalivation. The variety of local and systemic conditions, treatments and medications alter salivary secretion and composition. The degree of salivary glands dysfunction as well as the accompanying oral morbidity as a complication of dry mouth, make xerostomia therapy complex and often refractory. Treatment of xerostomia essentially is carried out in regard to the cause and is divided in four main categories: palliative or symptomaic, local and systemic stimulation and prevention of complications.
The incidence of dry mouth complaint on enquiry was found to be 3.3% on average in a retrospective study of the records of 2500 patients. The lowest incidence (1.20-2.66%) was in the youngest age group studied (6-20) years. The incidence increased with age and was substantially higher, reaching 20% in elderly females. In all age groups there was a higher incidence in females. The prevalence of diseases known to be associated with mucosal dryness, and the yearly patterns of drug prescription in Ireland are used to justify an estimate of 2.1% to 3.3% of the population to be the incidence of xerostomia in the Republic of Ireland.