By Kelsi Matylewicz/Benco Dental Social Media Intern

Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, and gingival recession, can lead to dental caries in older adults.

According to Mentor, a study done by the National Center for Health Statistics states that by 2030 nearly 20% of the U.S. population will be age 65 or older. Since the older demographic is on the rise, dental professionals need to know about the changes in these patients.

Xerostomia can lead to problems such as increased root caries in older patients who present with gingival recession. Pamela Maragliano-Muniz, DMD, a national lecturer and an associate clinical professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston says that saliva is important to oral health.

“Patients of any age are susceptible to xerostomia, but older adults are particularly at risk. It is estimated that 25% to 30% of older adults complain of daily dry mouth, compared with about 10% of the population at large,” says Mentor.

Xerostomia can be caused by: cancer treatments, prescription medications, and lack of saliva. Symptoms that might present upon examination include saliva that seems thick or stringy, and bad breath. In addition, a patient’s lips may be cracked, and the oral mucosa can appear reddened, thin and fragile. Patients could also experience problems such as oral soreness, burning sensations, a changed sense of taste, and difficulty chewing or swallowing.

To read the full story about treatments, causes of concern, and find out how to identify dry mouth, visit: