Salivary glands

Author: Sally Tanakchi (see Authors page)
Editor: F. Zahra Aly, M.D., Ph.D.

Revised: 12 March 2018, last major update October 2015

Copyright: (c) 2002-2018,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Xerostomia[TI] salivary[TI]
Cite this page: Tanakchi, S. Xerostomia. website. Accessed March 23rd, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Clinical term meaning dry mouth: either subjective or objective due to decrease in saliva secretion
  • Normal unstimulated whole saliva flow rate is 0.3 - 0.4 ml/min with < 0.1 ml/min being classed as significantly abnormal
  • Unstimulated flow rate correlates more closely with symptoms of xerostomia than stimulated flow
  • Diverse etiology includes idiopathic, autoimmune disease, drugs (anticholinergics), radiation therapy
  • Causes increased dental caries, oral candidiasis, ascending sialadenitis, dysgeusia, halitosis, fissures and ulcers
  • Treatment depends on etiology and is generally unsatisfactory
    • Saliva substitutes and stimulants (sugar free chewing gum) are used with variable results
    • Maintenance of oral hygiene is the cornerstone of treatment
Clinical images

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Severe vs. less severe

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For comparison: dry and sticky due to radiotherapy