Xerostomia or dryness of the oral cavity is now affecting one out of every five adults and has become one of the most common oral health pathologies. There are over 500 drugs, which contribute to this oral condition. Also advances in medicine and therapeutic modalities have resulted in a steadily increasing human life expectancy. With longevity we can expect salivary hypofunction.
Here are the statistics we are facing; the present Canadian population over 60 is 7.2 million or approximately 20 percent of our total population. That number is expected to double in the next 25 years.1 As the population ages and the ‘silver tsunami’ rolls in, are we prepared to address the growing challenge of xerostomia?
Function and importance of healthy saliva
Before we examine xerostomia, it is important to review the function and importance of healthy saliva. To the dental hygienist, saliva can present a number of challenges and impede our ability to isolate and perform certain procedures. To our client, the absence of saliva can detrimentally contribute to the daily quality of life.