Dry mouth in older adults may be drug-induced

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Dry mouth in older adults may be drug-induced

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Older adults are high users of medications, with about 40 per cent of community-dwelling and 75 per cent of institutionalised adults taking five or more medications. (Drop of Light/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Fri. 12. January 2018

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MELBOURNE, Australia/STOCKHOLM, Sweden: For older adults, salivary gland hypofunction can be a common side-effect of prescribed medications. The condition can lead to dental caries, dysgeusia, oral mucosal soreness and oral candidiasis, among others. In a systematic review and meta-analysis, researchers have sought to learn more about the connection between medications and dry mouth in older adults. They found that medication use was significantly associated with xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction in older adults.

So far, only few studies have investigated the severity of medication-induced dry mouth and the associated sequelae. Postdoctoral research fellow Dr Edwin Tan of Monash University in Australia worked closely with researchers from Karlstad University and the Academic Center for Geriatric Dentistry, both in Sweden, to screen titles and abstracts of a total of 1,544 studies investigating medication use as an exposure and xerostomia or salivary gland hypofunction as adverse drug outcomes. In the end, 52 were deemed eligible for inclusion in the final review and 26 in the meta-analysis.

In the intervention studies included, urological medications, anti-depressants and psycholeptics were significantly associated with dry mouth in adults over the age of 60. In the observational studies, numbers of medications and several medication classes were significantly associated with xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction. Medications used to treat urinary incontinence were nearly six times more likely to cause dry mouth than a placebo.

The scientists recommended that future research develop a risk score for medication-induced xerostomia to assist with prescribing and medication management. They also suggested that health care providers should regularly monitor and review all medications to identify potential side-effects and to adjust doses or change medications when necessary.

The study, titled “Medications that cause dry mouth as an adverse effect in older people: A systematic review and metaanalysis”, was published online ahead of print on 26 October 2017 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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