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Dry Mouth - xerostomia
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Dry mouth

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Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while, especially if you're nervous, Lack of saliva is a common problem that may seem little more than a nuisance.  Persistent dry mouth can affect how your food tastes and may even affect the health of your teeth. Although the treatment depends on the cause, dry mouth is often a side effect of medication.

 

What causes dry mouth?

People get dry mouth when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. Because of this, there might not be enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. There are several reasons why these glands (called salivary glands) might not work right.

  • Side effects of some medicines. More than 400 medicines can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva. Medicines for high blood pressure and depression often cause dry mouth.

  • Disease. Some diseases affect the salivary glands. Sjögren's Syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson's disease can all cause dry mouth.

  • Radiation therapy. The salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.

  • Chemotherapy. Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel dry.

  • Nerve damage. Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves that tell salivary glands to make saliva.

What can be done about dry mouth?

Dry mouth treatment will depend on what is causing the problem. If you think you have dry mouth, see your dentist or physician. He or she can try to determine what is causing your dry mouth.

  •  If your dry mouth is caused by medicine, your physician might change your medicine or adjust the dosage.

  • If your salivary glands are not working right but can still produce some saliva, your physician or dentist might give you a medicine that helps the glands work better.

  • Your physician or dentist might suggest that you use artificial saliva to keep your mouth wet.

 

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 12:23 AM