• health surveys;
  • older adults;
  • oral dryness;
  • zerostomia

Abstract – In this study of an older adult population almost one-fifth reported oral dryness. It was the most common of 22 oral symptoms and complaints. In a logistic regression analysis of predictors of oral dryness three variables had significant independent effects: income, taking prescribed medications and experiencing a stressful life change within the previous 6 months. Subjects with oral dryness had more decayed crown surfaces than those without but there was no association with decayed root surfaces. Nor were there any significant associations between reports of oral dryness and a number of indicators of periodontal health. Those with dryness were more likely to report other oral symptoms such as unpleasant taste, a burning sensation in the tongue and other parts of the mouth and pain from dentures. They were also more likely to report problems chewing food, problems with eating and communication and were more likely to be dissatisfied with their oral health. Given its prevalence and effects, oral dryness constitutes an important health issue among older adults.