Salivary flow rate can be a highly significant diagnostic tool in the dental treatment planning of high risk groups. Those patients at risk for xerostomia (i.e. patients taking antidepressant and antihypertension medication, or having irradiation and pathology of the parotid) should be tested with the Lashley cup to determine if acceptable flow rates are being maintained or compromised. Adequate flow rates for dentulous and edentulous patients are significantly different. Group A had a mean flow rate of 0.75 ml/min while Group B (edentulous) had a mean flow rate of 0.5 ml/min. Using an independent t-test, there was a significant difference at the p less than 0.05 level. Both hard and soft tissue are ravished by xerostomia. In dentulous patients, caries rates soar and make the prognosis for fixed prosthetics poor. In edentulous patients there is an ineffective film thickness resulting in high abrasion (sore spots) and decreased retention of removable prosthesis. Masticatory and gustatory stimulants may help alleviate these symptoms. However, the measurement of salivary flow is an invaluable diagnostic tool in determining the prognosis of alternative treatment plans. Because the elderly are more likely to be taking medications which result in xerostomia, this diagnostic tool should be used on a routine basis with geriatric patients.
R. Strahl, S. Welsh, C. Streckfus
Clinical preventive dentistry