A Guide to Medications Inducing Salivary Gland Dysfunction, Xerostomia, and Subjective Sialorrhea: A Systematic Review Sponsored by the World Workshop on Oral Medicine VI

Drugs R D. 2017 Mar;17(1):1-28. doi: 10.1007/s40268-016-0153-9.


Background: Medication-induced salivary gland dysfunction (MISGD), xerostomia (sensation of oral dryness), and subjective sialorrhea cause significant morbidity and impair quality of life. However, no evidence-based lists of the medications that cause these disorders exist.

Objective: Our objective was to compile a list of medications affecting salivary gland function and inducing xerostomia or subjective sialorrhea.

Data sources: Electronic databases were searched for relevant articles published until June 2013. Of 3867 screened records, 269 had an acceptable degree of relevance, quality of methodology, and strength of evidence. We found 56 chemical substances with a higher level of evidence and 50 with a moderate level of evidence of causing the above-mentioned disorders. At the first level of the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification system, 9 of 14 anatomical groups were represented, mainly the alimentary, cardiovascular, genitourinary, nervous, and respiratory systems. Management strategies include substitution or discontinuation of medications whenever possible, oral or systemic therapy with sialogogues, administration of saliva substitutes, and use of electro-stimulating devices.

Limitations: While xerostomia was a commonly reported outcome, objectively measured salivary flow rate was rarely reported. Moreover, xerostomia was mostly assessed as an adverse effect rather than the primary outcome of medication use. This study may not include some medications that could cause xerostomia when administered in conjunction with others or for which xerostomia as an adverse reaction has not been reported in the literature or was not detected in our search.

Conclusions: We compiled a comprehensive list of medications with documented effects on salivary gland function or symptoms that may assist practitioners in assessing patients who complain of dry mouth while taking medications. The list may also prove useful in helping practitioners anticipate adverse effects and consider alternative medications.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Humans
  • Oral Medicine*
  • Salivary Glands / drug effects*
  • Salivary Glands / physiopathology*
  • Sialorrhea / chemically induced*
  • Xerostomia / chemically induced*