Prevalence of Drug-Induced Xerostomia in Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment or Dementia: An Observational Study



Older adults, especially those with cognitive impairment or dementia, frequently consume drugs with potential xerostomic effects that impair their quality of life and oral health.


The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and analyze the possible pharmacological etiology of xerostomia in older people with or without cognitive impairment.


Individuals with cognitive impairment were recruited from patients diagnosed using standardized criteria in two neurology departments in Southern Spain. A comparison group was recruited from healthcare centers in the same city after ruling out cognitive impairment. Data on oral health, xerostomia, and drug consumption were recorded in both groups. Dry mouth was evaluated using a 1-item questionnaire and recording clinical signs of oral dryness. All drugs consumed by the participants were recorded, including memantine, anticholinesterases, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anxiolytics.


The final sample comprised 200 individuals with mild cognitive impairment or dementia and 156 without. Xerostomia was present in 70.5 % of participants with cognitive impairment versus 36.5 % of those without, regardless of the drug consumed. Memantine consumption was the only variable significantly related to xerostomia in the multivariate model (OR 3.1; 95 % CI 1.1–8.7), and this relationship persisted after adjusting for possible confounders and forcing the inclusion of drugs with xerostomic potential.


More than 70 % of participants diagnosed with cognitive impairment or dementia had xerostomia. Anticholinesterases and memantine were both associated with the presence of xerostomia. In the case of memantine, this association was independent of the consumption of the other drugs considered.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to José Antonio Gil-Montoya.

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No funding was received for the preparation of this manuscript.

Conflict of interest

Dr Gil-Montoya, Dr Barrios, Dr Sánchez-Lara, Dr Carnero-Pardo, Dr Fornieles-Rubio, Dr Montes, Dr Gonzalez-Moles, and Dr Bravo confirm no conflict of interest.

Ethical aspects

All participants gave their written informed consent to participate in the study, which was approved by the ethics committee of the University of Granada.

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Gil-Montoya, J.A., Barrios, R., Sánchez-Lara, I. et al. Prevalence of Drug-Induced Xerostomia in Older Adults with Cognitive Impairment or Dementia: An Observational Study. Drugs Aging 33, 611–618 (2016).

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  • Dementia
  • Cognitive Impairment
  • Oral Health
  • Memantine
  • Salivary Flow Rate