GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) _ Biomedical scientists at the University of North Dakota have received a $2 million boost for research that could lead to improvements of oral health in America.

The grant from the National Institutes of Health is meant to study the problem of dry mouth or xerostomia, a result of decreased saliva flow from under-functioning salivary glands. Almost 9 million Americans have this condition with varying degrees of severity.

Research has shown that chronic dry mouth significantly increases the risk of developing dental caries as well as other oral diseases.

Dr. Brij Singh is one of two scientists at UND’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences who received the grant. Singh says their research will be “critical” to explore potential therapeutic interventions and strategies to treat salivary gland conditions.