Author(s): Fox PC, van der Ven PF, Sonies BC, Weiffenbach JM, Baum BJ
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Abstract Xerostomia is the subjective sensation of oral dryness. Although it is most commonly associated with salivary gland dysfunction, it may also occur with normal gland activity. Xerostomia may be an early symptom of several morbid systemic conditions with important implications for the medical and dental management of patients. Oral dryness also has negative effects on an individual's emotional well-being and quality of life. The complaint of xerostomia necessitates a complete evaluation of a patient's general health, salivary gland function, and oral motor and sensory abilities. The salivary gland assessment includes symptom review, analysis of glandular secretions, scintiscanning, and minor labial gland biopsy. No single component is sufficient to adequately diagnose the presence, extent, or cause of salivary dysfunction. Treatment of a dry mouth, to date, is mainly palliative in nature, with the intent of preserving oral structures and functions. Better therapies are essential in the management of xerostomia, whatever the cause. The importance of xerostomia as a symptom is increasingly recognized in medicine and dentistry. The dentist is commonly the first health professional to hear this complaint and may be critical in directing a full and appropriate evaluation.
This article was published in J Am Dent Assoc
and referenced in Dentistry