• saliva;
  • age;
  • clinical;
  • research

The literature on the effect of age on saliva production, which has implications for health, quality of life, differential diagnosis, and case management, remains inconclusive. Physiological changes, motor and sensory, are frequently reported with increasing age. It was hypothesized that there would be a change in saliva production with older age. Whole stimulated saliva was collected by asking participants to chew gauze for 1 minute and then comparing the weight of saliva produced according to age and sex. Data were collected in activity centers for older adults, workplaces, universities, and participants' homes. Five hundred forty healthy individuals (aged 20–97) in three age groups (young = 20–30; middle-aged = 40–50; older ≥70) participated (90 men and 90 women in each group). A decrement in saliva production was identified for age in that the young and older participants and the middle-aged and older participants differed significantly from each other, but no difference was found between the young and middle-aged participants. The main effect of sex was not significant, nor was the interaction of age and sex. The results have implications for research and clinical work, including the differential diagnosis and subsequent management of salivary flow impairment due to age or underlying medical diagnosis or treatment. The assessment tool is easily administered and inexpensive and lends itself to use in many different clinical and research settings by different professionals.