Saliva has many important functions. It helps to keep the mouth comfortable as a lubricant whilst eating or speaking and helps us taste and digest food. Saliva also keeps the teeth, the gums and the lining of the mouth healthy. Dry mouth is a subjective feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth. For some people this problem can be persistent and unpleasant, reducing their quality of life. Hyposalivation refers to abnormally low saliva flow. This can lead to health problems.
What causes dry mouth?
Diagnosis of dry mouth
The diagnosis of dry mouth is made by a dentist and includes assessing patient symptoms and medical history, examination of the soft and hard oral tissues and saliva tests. A common saliva test is to roll the lower lip outward, dry the labial mucosa with gauze and measure how long it takes for the mucosa to secrete saliva. If it takes longer than 60 seconds the resting saliva flow is likely to be low.
Symptoms and Signs
A person with dry mouth can experience
Treatment of dry mouth
A dentist may recommend: