The occurrence of xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction in a population-based sample of older South Australians

Authors

  • W. Murray Thomson BDS, MComDent, MA,

    1. Department of Dental Public Health, The University of Otago School of Dentistry, PO Box 647, Dunedin, New Zealand.
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  • Jane M. Chalmers BDS, MS,

    1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Dental Statistics and Research Unit, Department of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide, Australia.
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  • A. John Spencer BDS, MDSc, MPH, PhD,

    1. Professor of Social and Preventive Dentistry, Department of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide.
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  • Mohammad Ketabi BDS, MDS

    1. Lecturer in Periodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, Azad University at Khorasgan, Isfalian, Iran, and was formerly a post-graduate student in the Department of Dentistry, Tlie University of Adelaide.
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Abstract

This paper examines the prevalence of and concurrence between the symptoms of dry mouth (xerostomia) and reduced salivary flow (SGH) among a population-based sample of older South Australians. Participants in a longitudinal dental study of older people were asked a global question about their experience of dry mouth (“How often does your mouth feel dry?”), and those who responded “Always” or “Frequently” were categorized as xerostomic. Unstimulated whole salivary flow rate was measured, and individuals whose flow rate was less than 0.1 mL/min were categorized as SGH cases. Saliva samples were collected from 700 individuals, of whom 683 (97.7%) answered the dry-mouth question. The mean unstimulated salivary flow rate was 0.27 mL/min (SD 0.22). The prevalence of SGH was 22.1%, and the prevalence of xerostomia was 20.5%, but only 5.7% of participants had both conditions. Almost two-thirds of the sample had neither condition. Males and females differed in the degree of concurrence between the two conditions. It appears that, in the group studied, xerostomia and SGH were largely discrete conditions, supporting the assertion by other workers that low salivary flow may not be the key factor in the etiology of xerostomia among older people.

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