A longitudinal study of medication exposure and xerostomia among older people

Gerodontology. 2006 Dec;23(4):205-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-2358.2006.00135.x.


Objective: To describe the incidence of xerostomia among a population of older people over a 6-year period, with particular attention to medications as risk factors.

Background: Understanding the natural history of xerostomia requires longitudinal epidemiological research, but only one study has examined changes in xerostomia over time. While medication is a recognised risk factor for dry mouth, the role of particular medication categories continues to be controversial.

Materials and methods: Older South Australians (aged 60+) underwent an interview and dental examination at baseline, and these assessments were repeated 2, 5 and 11 years afterward. Medication data were collected at baseline, 5 and 11 years. Xerostomia data were collected at 5 and 11 years using the Xerostomia Inventory (XI) and a standard question.

Results: Of the 1205 dentate participants assessed at baseline, 669 remained after 5 years, and 246 were assessed at 11 years. Medication prevalence increased over the observation period, such that 94.8% of the cohort were taking at least one medication by 11 years. The prevalence of xerostomia increased from 21.4% to 24.8% between 5 and 11 years (p > 0.05), and the mean XI score increased from 20.0 (SD, 6.7) to 21.5 (SD, 7.9; p < 0.001). Some 14.7% of participants were incident cases of xerostomia, while 11.4% were remitted cases; 10.1% were cases at both 5 and 11 years. After controlling for gender and 'baseline' xerostomia severity (represented by the XI score at 5 years), participants who commenced taking daily aspirin after 5 years had over four times the odds of becoming incident cases, while those who commenced taking a diuretic after 5 years had nearly six times the odds of doing so.

Conclusions: While the overall prevalence of xerostomia increased during the observation period, there was considerable instability, with one-quarter of the cohort changing their status. Medication exposure was strongly associated with the incidence of the condition, with recent exposure to diuretics or daily aspirin strongly predicting it.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Xerostomia / chemically induced*
  • Xerostomia / epidemiology