Dr. Nelson Rhodus, Director
Professor, Diagnostic and Biological Sciences
Diplomate, American Board of Oral Medicine
Phone: (612) 625-0693
Appointments: (612) 626-3233 or (612) 625-8418
What is xerostomia?
Xerostomia is a common complaint of older individuals, those whom are medically compromised and using medications and those whom have been irradiated for head and neck cancer. Xerostomia is associated with a decrease in salivary flow and/or alterations in salivary composition. It is a major problem for individuals with Sjogren's syndrome, systemic lupus, diabetes and other immune diseases.
What are the symptoms of xerostomia?
Xerostomia is manifested in complaints of oral dryness, burning of the tissues, difficulty eating and swallowing, irritation of the tongue and painful ulcerations as well as significantly progressive caries and periodontal disease. The burning tongue (glossodynia) may become quite severe with chronic dryness, resulting in atrophy and painful fissuring and desquamation of the mucosa, often interfering with nutritional intake. Needless to say, there are high levels of discomfort and oral disease in the affected individual.
Goals of the clinic
The goals of the Xerostomia clinic include the provision of a definitive diagnosis and etiology as well as prognosis of the salivary dysfunction. Salivary flow assessment and function tests, other laboratory tests and referrals are performed as necessary. Management of the condition depending upon diagnosis and severity includes increasing salivary flow and fluid, oral moisture and comfort, controlling soft tissue infections and pain, prevention of recurrent caries and other conditions and oral disease prevention strategies and therapies which work in concert with the primary care dentist.
A final purpose is to continue research in the area of salivary gland dysfunction in order to better understand the etiologies, the relationship of xerostomia to systemic health and to ultimately provide better treatment.