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J Am Dent Assoc. 2007 Sep;138 Suppl:15S-20S.

Dry mouth and its effects on the oral health of elderly people.

Author information

  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, New York University College of Dentistry, New York City, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Am Dent Assoc. 2008 Mar;139(3):252-3.



The objective of this literature review is to summarize information about the etiology, diagnosis, oral sequelae and treatment of dry mouth in elderly patients.


The authors conducted a comprehensive review of the English-based scientific literature from the past 10 years. They selected the studies on the basis of clinical investigations to provide an objective assessment of dry mouth problems among older people.


Dry mouth (salivary hypofunction, xerostomia) is a common problem among older people. It causes significant oropharyngeal disorders, pain and an impaired quality of life. Dry mouth has many causes, from local salivary disorders to a plethora of medications and medical conditions. Treatments are designed to correct the underlying cause and/or to enhance salivation with topical and systemic stimulants. Early intervention for dry mouth problems helps prevent the deleterious consequences of this disorder in elderly people.


Clinicians must be aware of dry mouth problems in older patients, and they should be prepared to provide a diagnosis and administer treatment to protect a patient's oropharyngeal health and quality of life.

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