Saliva Production and Enjoyment of Real-Food Flavors in People with and Without Dysphagia and/or Xerostomia
Non-food gustatory stimulation has multiple potential therapeutic benefits for people with dysphagia and xerostomia. This study examined palatability and saliva flow associated with dissolvable flavored films. Taste strips with real-food flavors dissolved on the tongues of 21 persons with dysphagia and/or xerostomia and 21 healthy age- and sex-matched adults while sublingual gauze pads absorbed saliva over randomized 3-min trials. Participants rated taste enjoyment for each trial on a hedonic general labeled magnitude scale. Flavored strips elicited more saliva than baseline for both groups, and production was higher for controls than patients (M = 2.386 and 1.091 g, respectively; p = 0.036). Main effects of flavor were observed for saliva production (p = 0.002) and hedonics (p < 0.001). Hedonic ratings and saliva production were weakly correlated (r = 0.293, p < 0.001). Results support dissolvable taste strips as a tool for providing low-risk taste stimulation in dysphagia and for eliciting an increase in saliva flow that may provide temporary relief from dry mouth symptoms. The preferred flavors were, on average, also the ones that elicited greater saliva production. Taste strips have the potential to be beneficial for swallowing-related neural activity, timing, and safety in dysphagia. Further, they may ameliorate complications of xerostomia.
KeywordsDeglutition Deglutition disorders Dysphagia Xerostomia Taste stimulation Salivary flow
This research was supported in part by the United States Army Medical Research and Development Program (W81XWH-12-2-0021; WRNMMC Protocol 357205; PI: Solomon). The authors sincerely thank Katie Dietrich-Burns and Jessica Steiner for contributions to data collection, and the clinical speech-language pathologists and rheumatologists at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center who facilitated participant recruitment. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the US Government. The identification of specific products or scientific instrumentation does not constitute endorsement or implied endorsement on the part of the authors, Department of Defense, or any component agency.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. Tasteful Advances/First Flavor, LLC, provided the taste strips according to a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA #382400-12).
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