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Dry Mouth / Xerostomia

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a condition caused by decreased salivary flow. It is characterized by dry oral mucous membranes, and is significant because saliva normally lubricates the cheeks, lips and tongue; and keeps those tissues from sticking sticking to each other and to the teeth.

There are varying degrees of severity. Dry mouth is also significant because saliva is the body’s main defense against tooth decay (caries). Saliva contains enzymes that begin the digestion of food; and its flushing action channels food particles toward the tongue. Reduced levels of saliva can lead to rapid formation of cavities, especially at the gumline, where food plaques accumulate.

The results can be devastating. Multiple teeth can be lost in a relatively short time. Dry Mouth itself can also be very unpleasant, as the oral mucous membranes tend to stick to themselves and the teeth.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on March 6, 2018.

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