It is unrealistic to attempt to give a timeline on the course of events for those with xerostomia because it is a sign and a symptom of multiple causative reasons. Each of these, happening in very different individuals, means that beyond the fairly generic advice given here it is only possible for the individual treating clinician to advise on what to expect following treatment. It is, however, generally true that successful treatment of the underlying causes (where these can be identified and treated) defines the overall timeline for the course of events regarding xerostomia.
- As can be seen from the limited but fairly specific treatment options, the vast majority of interventions for xerostomia are medical. In these cases, if a drug is going to work, it will be evident in the short term: 24 to 48 hours, most of the unwanted effects will be noticed by then as well. Medium term: unwanted effects may become more obvious. Long term: if initially tolerated, there should be none.
- In surgery to attempt to prevent xerostomia the timelines are similar to those for submandibular gland excision and general timelines in the treatment of salivary gland problems.
- Dry mouth following oral mucosal or total mucosal irradiation in radiotherapy applied to the head & neck region is largely a chronic and lifelong problem. The acute manifestations of oral mucosal irradiation mean that initially dryness is not so obvious as it is submerged beneath the pain of mucositis. As a lifelong chronic condition there are no timelines to follow but advice for management (and self-help) can be found on our page about the treatment of xerostomia.