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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1995 Apr;43(4):401-7.

Xerostomia, xerogenic medications and food avoidances in selected geriatric groups.

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University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Ann Arbor 48109-1078, USA.



To study the relationship between complaints of xerostomia and salivary performance and food avoidances in four geriatric groups chosen to reflect a broad spectrum of individuals along the health-disease continuum. To determine whether xerogenic medications taken by these individuals could be associated with either complaints of xerostomia or with food avoidances.


Cross-sectional survey. Clinical examinations and interview.


A VA dental clinic and a retirement home.


Subjects were 529 individuals older than 56 years of age, living both in institutions and in the community (average age 70 years). Two hundred eight persons were recruited from a VA Dental Clinic, 114 from a residential retirement home, and 132 from a nursing/long-term-care facility; 75 were from an acute care ward and had a diagnosis of a cerebral vascular accident or other neurological condition.


Prevalence of xerostomia, dental morbidity, salivary flow, and food avoidances.


About 72% of the subjects experienced xerostomia sometime during the day. Stimulated salivary flow was found to be significantly lower in individuals who complained of xerostomia than in those who did not. Fifty-five percent of participants reported using one or more xerogenic medications, with an 86% prevalence in the nursing/long-term-care facility. Individuals with xerostomia had difficulty in chewing and in starting a swallow and were significantly more likely to avoid crunchy foods such as vegetables, dry foods such as bread, and sticky foods such as peanut butter in their diets. Specific medications such as the inhalants ipratropium and triamcinolone and the systemic agents oxybutynin and triazolam could be statistically associated with xerostomia and/or low salivary flow, and/or specific food avoidances.


Xerostomia apparently affects the ability to chew and start a swallow. This leads to avoidance of certain foods, which raises the possibility that xerostomia could contribute to undernutrition in older persons. The topically applied ipratropium and triamcinolone and the systemic agents amitriptyline, oxybutynin and triazolam could be statistically associated with one or more complaints of xerostomia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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