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Chin J Dent Res. 2014;17(2):75-83.

Understanding of xerostomia and strategies for the development of artificial saliva.


Xerostomia is becoming a major issue in dental and medical clinics with an increase of aged population. Medication is the most common etiology of xerostomia, while the most severe xerostomia generally occurs in patients with a history of head and neck radiotherapy. Xerostomic patients usually suffer from diminished quality of life due to various symptoms and complications. Decreased salivary output is a definite objective sign, but oral mucosal wetness is a more reliable factor for the evaluation of xerostomia. At present there are no effective therapeutic methods for the treatment of xerostomia. Sialogogues may have problematic side effects and their therapeutic effects last only brief duration. Artificial saliva typically does not produce satisfactory results in therapeutic efficacy. Therefore, further research and development of better therapeutic modalities are necessary. The basic concept for the development of ideal and functional artificial saliva is the mimicry of natural human saliva. We need proper candidate molecules and antimicrobial supplements to simulate the rheological and biological properties of human saliva. We also need better understanding of the interactions between the ingredients of artificial saliva themselves and between the ingredients and components of human saliva both in solution and on surface phases. In addition, we need accepted measures to evaluate the efficacy of artificial saliva. In conclusion, for the development of ideal artificial saliva, research based on the understanding of pathophysiology of xerostomia and knowledge about rheological and biological functions of human saliva are necessary.

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