J Oral Pathol Med (2010) 39: 407–419
Background: Recently, oral sensory complaints (OSC) were proposed as a disease entity to represent idiopathic sensory disturbances of dry mouth, burning mouth, and taste disturbance, even though neither the status of OSC in the general population nor its underlying mechanism has yet been elucidated. Moreover, these three OSC-related complaints have not been assessed in combination by means of a visual analog scale (VAS) in a large-scale, community-dwelling population of a broad age range.
Methods: In a 1188-member community-dwelling adult population, comprised of 373 males and 815 females, aged 20–90 years, the three OSC-related complaints and stimulated salivary flow rate (SSFR) were assessed by means of a VAS and modified Saxon test, respectively. Association of each complaint with age, gender, SSFR, and other complaints was analyzed.
Results: Increases in both prevalence and intensity of subjective dry mouth and burning mouth were associated closely with decreasing SSFR. Even for taste disturbance, which may be affected less significantly by salivation status than the other two complaints, a significant association was suggested between decreasing SSFR and especially severe taste disturbance. However, these oral complaints were found in considerable prevalence even in the individuals with high SSFR. Often overlapping presentation of these complaints and a close association in intensity between the complaints to each other were also found.
Conclusions: Hyposalivation may be a significant and common etiology for the three oral complaints, although the considerable prevalence of complaints without hyposalivation suggests other etiologies, including those related to the OSC.