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Dentists, Pharmacists Raise Awareness of Medication-Induced Dry Mouth
Date:8/11/2011

equate saliva may experience some common symptoms of dry mouth."  

Signs and symptoms
At some point, most people will experience the short-term sensation of oral dryness because of nervousness, stress or just being upset.  This is normal and does not have any long-term consequences.  But chronic cases of dry mouth persist for longer periods of time.  Common symptoms include trouble eating, speaking and chewing, burning sensations, or a frequent need to sip water while eating.  

"Dry mouth becomes a problem when symptoms occur all or most of the time and can cause serious problems for your oral health," explains Dr. Matthew Messina, ADA consumer advisor. "Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection."

According to Dr. Messina, who practices general dentistry in the Cleveland area, without the cleansing and shielding effects of adequate saliva flow, tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease become much more common. "Constant dryness and the lack of protection provided by saliva may contribute to bad breath.  Dry mouth can make full dentures become less comfortable to wear because there is no thin film of saliva to help them adhere properly to oral tissues," he adds.  "Insufficient saliva can also result in painful denture sores, dry and cracked lips, and increased risks of oral infection."

Common causes
Once considered an inevitable part of aging, dry mouth is now commonly associated with certain medications and autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren's syndrome.  Both of these can reduce salivary production or alter its composition, but experts agree that the primary cause of dry mouth is the use of medications.

Radiation treatment for head and neck cancer is also an important cause of severe dry mouth.  The treatment can produce significant damage to the salivary glands, resulting in diminished saliva
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SOURCE American Dental Association
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