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Drugs Aging. 1999 Aug;15(2):103-16.

Xerostomia and hyposalivation: causes, consequences and treatment in the elderly.

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Sector of Oral Function and Prosthetic Dentistry, University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


Xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction (SGH) are prevalent in elderly populations, causing much discomfort and even difficulties in eating. SGH also increases the occurrence and severity of oral diseases and makes the patient susceptible to candidiasis. The principal causes of SGH and xerostomia are systemic diseases and drugs used daily. The diagnosis of SGH and xerostomia is based on simple methods, of which measuring both unstimulated and stimulated salivary flow rate is the most important. Treatment calls for proper management of underlying disease, avoidance of all unnecessary medications, and topical remedies such as artificial saliva substitutes. However, good hydration is essential in the elderly with SGH and xerostomia, and water is the drink of choice. In extremely difficult cases, for instance in patients receiving radiotherapy for cancer of the head and neck regions, parasympathomimetic drugs may be administered if no contraindications exist.

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