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How Common is Xerostomia?

December 20, 2006

Chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia, has long been considered a problem of aging.  But how common is it?  The medical literature contains just one study on the subject, and myriad questions remain about the risk factors, incidence, and natural history of the condition.  Now, in the December issue of the journal Gerodontology, NIDCR grantees and colleagues have published a second longitudinal study.  It tracked 1,205 dentate adults age 60 and older over several years, with 246 participants being followed for 11 years.  The researchers found that the prevalence of xerostomia increased from 21.4 percent to 24.8 percent between the fifth and eleventh year of follow up.  However, one quarter of those with xerostomia fluctuated over time in the severity, or status, of their condition.  The researchers also carefully tracked the use of medications, a recognized but still nonspecific risk factor for xerostomia.  Their use increased throughout the study, with nearly 95 percent taking at least one medication at the study’s 11-year mark.  According to the authors, “While only two categories of medication being taken at 11 years were associated with the incidence of xerostomia between 5 and 11 years (antidepressants and daily aspirin), there were stronger associations when only those medications taken since the 5-year assessment were included in the analysis.  In this exposure category, xerostomia incidence was greater among those taking diuretics, NSAIDs, antidepressants or daily aspirin.”


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This page last updated: February 26, 2014