Polypharmacy in the nation’s growing geriatric population will require increasingly complex pharmacologic management of multiple disease states. This brief review describes normal salivary function, potential causes of salivary dysfunction, oral health concerns associated with hyposalivation, diagnostic tests, and options for patient care. Daily production of saliva is estimated at 0.5 L to 1 L/day. Medications that reduce salivary flow are called xerogenic. A major complication of xerostomia is the promotion of dental caries. Asking several standardised questions regarding symptoms may help confirm salivary gland hypofunction. The general approach to patients with hyposalivation and xerostomia is directed at palliative treatment for the relief of symptoms and prevention of oral complications.
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On completion of this module you will understand normal salivary function, the potential causes of salivary dysfunction, oral health concerns associated with hyposalivation and options for patient care.