Xerostomia in the Elderly: Prevalence, Diagnosis, Complications and Treatment1

Authors

  • H. Ben-Aryeh DSc,

    1. Address reprint requests to Dr. H. Ben–Aryeh, Laboratory of Oral Biology, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Rambam Medical Center, POB 9602, Haifa 31096, Israel.
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  • D. Miron MD,

    1. This paper is submitted by Dr. D. Miron in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the M.D. degree, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa Israel.
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  • I. Berdicevsky DSC,

    1. Address reprint requests to Dr. H. Ben–Aryeh, Laboratory of Oral Biology, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Rambam Medical Center, POB 9602, Haifa 31096, Israel.
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  • R. Szargel MSc,

    1. Address reprint requests to Dr. H. Ben–Aryeh, Laboratory of Oral Biology, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Rambam Medical Center, POB 9602, Haifa 31096, Israel.
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  • D. Gutman DDS

    1. Address reprint requests to Dr. H. Ben–Aryeh, Laboratory of Oral Biology, Department of Maxillofacial Surgery, Rambam Medical Center, POB 9602, Haifa 31096, Israel.
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  • 1

    Laboratory of Oral Biology, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and Department of Microbiology, Rambam Medical Center, and the Faculty of Medicine, Technion–Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. The authors would like to thank the volunteers for their cooperation and Miss Ruth Singer for excellent secretarial help.

Abstract

The prevalence of xerostomia was evaluated in 259 volunteers 70 ± 4.5 years old. Seventy–two (27.7%) complained of dry mouth. In 31 (11.8%) salivary secretion was under 0.1 ml/min. The xerostomic patients were compared to an age–matched control group. The main complaints of xerostomia were dry mouth during the day, dry throat, burning sensation of the tongue, difficulty in swallowing, and taste disturbances. Systemic diseases frequent in the xerostomic patients were heart failure and hypertension. Chronic renal failure, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypothyroidism were also encountered. The medications most frequently used by the xerostomic patients were parasympatholytics, sympatholytics, and diuretics. A higher frequency of active caries, gingivitis, and dryness of the mucosa was detected in the xerostomic patients. A significantly higher response to stimulation, elevated salivary calcium, and lowered oral pH were found in this group. Xerostomia was found to be related o t systemic diseases, medications, or a combination of these factors. The importance of saliva for maintaining oral health was also observed. Twenty–nine patients suffering from xerostomia were treated with an artificial saliva. On reexamination after one month, most of them reported improvement, and a significant increase in salivary flow rate was found.

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