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Causes of Dry Mouth / Xerostomia, Dry Mouth Conditions & Dry Mouth Symptoms

Generally saliva isn't appreciated until it is gone. Dry mouth conditions, also known as xerostomia, affects at least one third of adults in the United States. Normal human salivary glands produce about 4-6 cups of saliva per day, but when this amount drops significantly dry mouth symptoms can develop quickly. Symptoms of xerostomia can range from mild dryness to pain and burning in the mouth. Some common consequences of the condition can be halitosis, gum disease and increased tooth decay.

Dry mouth conditions can produce serious negative effects in quality of life of an individual. It can lead to changes in a person's dietary habits that can negatively affect their nutritional state, effect speech and taste, and hinder one's ability to wear full or partial dentures. The most common cause of xerostomia is the aging process. The aging process will cause the saliva glands to produce less saliva, and as one ages the numbers of medications being used that can cause xerostomia also increase.

The causes of dry mouth are numerous but the most common cause of this salivary dysfunction is related to medications of different kinds. There are over 600 prescription and non-prescription drugs that can induce xerostomia, but the common ones are allergy medications, anti-depressives, blood pressure medications, and diuretics just to name a few. Coffee is considered a diuretic. Other causes are aging, dehydration, and using alcohol based mouth rinses. Some less common causes are radiation treatment to the head and neck areas, certain chemotherapy agents, patients suffering from Sjögrens Syndrome, diabetes, and other autoimmune diseases. Sjögrens Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that attacks the body's own moisture-producing glands throughout the body. It can affect numerous organs, in the body the eyes, the mouth, joint pain, the nervous system, and cause severe fatigue. Approximately a million people in the United States suffer from various forms of this disease and it is the most common autoimmune condition seen today.

Inflammation of the salivary glands and ducts can also result in a decreased salivary flow and blocked salivary ducts due to salivary stones will also produce a xerostomia condition.

People suffering from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease will often be taking medications that will reduce salivary flow and lead to dry mouth symptoms.

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