Salivary hypofunction and xerostomia: diagnosis and treatment

Dent Clin North Am. 2005 Apr;49(2):309-26. doi: 10.1016/j.cden.2004.10.002.


Salivary gland hypofunction and complaints of xerostomia are common in elderly patients, irrespective of their living situation. Medication use is frequently related to dry mouth symptoms and reductions in salivary flow rates. Patients with reduced salivary flow are at increased risk for caries, oral fungal infections, swallowing problems, and diminished or altered taste. Oral health care providers should institute aggressive preventive measures and recommend palliative care for patients with significant reduction in salivary gland function. The systemic agents pilocarpine and cevimeline may help selected patients. Selective use of fluoride-releasing restorative materials and conservative treatment plans are recommended for this patient group.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cariostatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Fluorides / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Pilocarpine / therapeutic use
  • Polypharmacy
  • Quinuclidines / therapeutic use
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Salivation / drug effects
  • Sjogren's Syndrome / complications
  • Thiophenes / therapeutic use
  • Xerostomia / drug therapy*
  • Xerostomia / etiology
  • Xerostomia / prevention & control


  • Cariostatic Agents
  • Quinuclidines
  • Thiophenes
  • Pilocarpine
  • cevimeline
  • Fluorides