My watch list  


Classification & external resources
ICD-10 K11.7, R68.2
ICD-9 527.7
DiseasesDB 17880

Xerostomia is the medical term for a dry mouth due to a lack of saliva. Xerostomia is sometimes colloquially called pasties or cottonmouth.

Xerostomia can cause difficulty in speech and eating. It also leads to halitosis and a dramatic rise in the number of cavities, as the protective effect of saliva is no longer present, and can make the mucosa of the mouth more vulnerable to infection. Notably, a symptom of methamphetamine use usually called "meth mouth" is largely caused by xerostomia.


It may be a sign of an underlying disease, such as Sjögren's syndrome, poorly controlled diabetes, or Eaton-Lambert syndrome, but this is not always so.

Other causes of insufficient saliva include anxiety, medications, or alcohol, trauma to the salivary glands or their ducts or nerves, dehydration, excessive mouth breathing, previous radiation therapy, and also a natural result of aging. The vast majority of elderly individuals will suffer xerostomia to some degree. Playing or exercising a long time outside on a hot day will often cause your saliva glands to simply dry up as your bodily fluids are concentrated elsewhere. Xerostomia is a common side-effect of various drugs, such as cannabis, dextromethorphan, and several antidepressants.


Treatment involves finding any correctable causes and fixing those if possible. In many cases it is not possible to correct the xerostomia itself, and treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms and preventing cavities. Patients who have endured chemotherapy usually suffer from this post- treatment. Patients with xerostomia should avoid the use of decongestants and antihistamines, and pay careful attention to oral hygiene. Sipping sugarless fluids frequently, chewing xylitol-containing gum[1], and using a carboxymethyl cellulose saliva substitute as a mouthwash may help. Aquoral may be prescribed to treat xerostomia. Non-systemic relief can be found using an oxidized glycerol triesters treatment used to coat the mouth.


  1. ^ Jensen JL, Langberg CW (1997): Temporary hyposalivation induced by radiation therapy in a child. Tidsskr Nor Loegeforen 21:3077-9
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Xerostomia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE