Merck Manual

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Spotlight on Aging: Dry Mouth

Spotlight on Aging: Dry Mouth

Many older people have a dry mouth. Although aging itself affects moisture in the mouth only slightly, it does make people more susceptible to conditions that dry the mouth, and older people are more likely to take drugs that may dry the mouth.

For many people, a dry mouth is only an occasional annoyance. For others, it is a persistent problem that interferes with tasting, chewing, swallowing, speaking, and wearing dentures. Persistent dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay and periodontal disease. Persistent dry mouth is usually a symptom of a disorder or a side effect of a drug.