Fighting Dry Mouth: An Interprofessional Opportunity

Publication ID Published Version
9308 January 14, 2013 1


Dry mouth (xerostomia) is caused by medications, medical diseases, as well as medical treatments. Medications account for approximately 90% of xerostomia cases. With a growing population of people over 65, and many patients taking more than one medication, the consequences of dry mouth to the hard and soft tissues of the oral cavity are becoming one of the fastest growing health problems in our world today. It can affect an individual’s quality of life by affecting their ability to eat, swallow, sleep comfortably, and speak. It is critical that all health care professionals develop competency in the area of xerostomia. They must be able to screen for dry mouth by recognizing the potential causes of xerostomia, as well as its signs and symptoms. They should be able to describe the function of saliva as well as delineate the patho-physiology that results from salivary gland destruction or suppression. It is critical that the health care provider be able to specify pharmacologic agents that may cause dry mouth and evaluate the patient's medical needs vs. the consequences of a severely dry mouth. It will be important to prescribe methods to stimulate and/or replace critically important saliva to minimize the damage to oral hard and soft tissues. The interdisciplinary operation of the health care delivery system to anticipate, recognize, manage and refer the sequelae of xerostomia will be essential. The American Pharmacists Association, the American Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the American Academy of Periodontology are currently working to expand awareness of the consequences of dry mouth.

This module presents information on the importance of saliva for normal body function; what happens when salivary function is reduced; what causes this reduction in saliva; and describes roles of the interdisciplinary team in recognition and management of this condition. The module is a PowerPoint recorded in Camtasia by two dentists, a pharmacist, and a physician/psychiatrist. The recording can be utilized by an individual or in groups. The submission also contains a Facilitator’s Guide to Case-Based Learning that includes six points with guided direction on how to utilize the information presented in the module to foster case based learning. This submission contains four cases as an assessment tool with a separate file that contains the answers to the questions along with the explanation of the correct answers. In addition, the guidelines for case based instruction can be utilized by health care professional students or residents in assessing their own assigned patients for the presence of dry mouth, determining the cause, analyzing the effects, and recommending management strategies.


Veselicky L, Swager L, Morgan S, Dolin D, DeBiase C, Veselicky K. Fighting Dry Mouth: An Interprofessional Opportunity. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2013. Available from:

Contains Information Suitable for Patient Education

Educational Objectives

Following completion of the module, the health care providers will be able to address complications/management of dry mouth (xerostomia) by:

  1. Explaining the patho-physiology of xerostomia.
  2. Listing the signs and symptoms of xerostomia.
  3. Delineating dental caries, gingival conditions and other factors attributed to diminished saliva.
  4. Classifying common pharmacologic agents associated with xerostomia.
  5. Recognizing medical conditions and/or medical treatment/s that result in xerostomia.
  6. Lay out available treatment options and medical management strategies that can prevent or reduce the harmful effects of this malady.
  7. Advocate for the role of the physician, nurse, pharmacist, dental provider or other health care professionals in identifying, preventing, and managing dry mouth as well as referring to an oral health care professional when appropriate.


  • Xerostomia, Dry Mouth, Saliva, Caries, Building Oral Health Capacity (BOHC) Collection


  • Medical
    • Preventive Medicine
  • Dental
    • Preventive Dentistry


  • Knowledge for Practice
  • Patient Care
    • Promote health prevention
  • Practice-based Learning & Improvement

Professional Interest

  • Interdisciplinary
  • Interprofessional
  • Oral Health

Instructional Methods

  • Assessment
    • Clinical Practice
  • Case-based Instruction/Learning
  • Independent Learning
  • Lecture
  • Problem-based Learning (PBL)

Organ Systems

  • Gastrointestinal system

Academic Focus

  • Basic Sciences
    • Pathology
    • Pharmacology/Toxicology
  • Clinical Sciences
    • Clinical Exam
    • Clinical Skills/Doctoring

Intended Audience

  • Professional School
    • Allied Health Student
    • Dental Student
    • Medical Student
    • Nursing Student
    • Pharmacy Student
  • Professional School Post-Graduate Training
    • Resident


  • Presentation
  • Video

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ISSN 2374-8265