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An update of the etiology and management of xerostomia.

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  • 1Department of Oral Medicine, Eastman Dental Institute for Oral Health Care Sciences, University College London, University of London, England.


Salivary gland disease gives rise to salivary gland enlargement, pain, and prolonged xerostomia (dry mouth). Xerostomia is the most common long-standing problem for the majority of affected patients. There are many causes of dry mouth, with long-standing xerostomia being a particular problem in Sjögren's syndrome and after radiation to the head and neck region. Xerostomia is usually managed with saliva substitutes, but a large number of potential systemic therapies of long-standing xerostomia now exist. Some-particularly immunosuppressants-are of fundamental interest for the potential reduction of gland damage in Sjögren's syndrome but as yet are of limited clinical usefulness. Others, particularly pilocarpine and cevimeline, are, or have the potential to be, clinically useful in stimulating salivation by virtue of their action on cholinergic receptors.

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