Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Saliva is not just spit. Saliva contains 40 essential proteins, 13 electrolytes, and minerals 7 small organic molecules.
Saliva is one of the most complex but versatile and important body fluids and contains a number of systems which serve a wide spectrum of physiological needs. Saliva is required to swallow food, to speak and to protect oral mucosa and the teeth from infection. This fluid contains variety of electrolytes, peptides, glycoproteins, and lipids which have, antimicrobial properties to kill bacteria and viruses, mucins to coat and protect the mucosa from trauma and dehydration, buffers to maintain pH level in spite of the daily use of acidic and basic foods and fluids, calcium and phosphates which protect the teeth and prevent demineralization and dissolution of the teeth within the oral cavity.
Xerostomia is the feeling that there is not enough saliva in the mouth. Everyone has a xerostomia once in a while — if they are nervous, upset or under stress. But if you have a xerostomia all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious health problems. It can also be a sign of certain underlying diseases and conditions.
The prevalence of xerostomia varies from 13 to 28% in most older populations and increases up to 60% in patients living in long-term care facilities.
People get xerostomia when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. Because of this, there might not be enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. There are several reasons why these glands (called salivary glands) might not work right.
Radiation therapy: The salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy: Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel dry.
Disease: Some diseases affect the salivary glands. For e.g., Sj
Side effects of some medicines: Medicines for high blood pressure and depression often cause xerostomia.
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