Dry mouth: Diagnosis

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Diagnosing dry mouth

Useful tools to help you recognise reduced saliva flow and dry mouth in patients

Who is at risk?

History taking

If you suspect a patient is suffering from dry mouth, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs has highlighted four questions for which a positive answer is associated with salivary hypofunction:5,7

  • Does the amount of saliva in your mouth seem too little?
  • Does your mouth feel dry when eating a meal?
  • Do you sip liquids to aid in swallowing dry food?
  • Do you have difficulty swallowing?

ADA Council on Scientific Affairs xerostomia guidelines

Diagnostic tests for dry mouth symptoms

The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs outlines three diagnostic tests that you can use to support a dry mouth diagnosis7

Diagnostic tests
Salivary flow measurement Periodic evaluation of salivary flow rate that provides a tool for monitoring dry mouth symptoms
Blood tests Biomarker testing for when dry mouth is suspected to be related to systemic
Biopsy Minor salivary gland biopsy can be used to identify any underlying pathological changes associated with dysfunction

ADA Council on Scientific Affairs xerostomia guidelines

For more oral care advice, visit the educational sources on our Learning Lab.

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