The whole salivary flow rates and microbial conditions were examined in a 10-year follow-up and cross-sectional study in a random sample of elderly inhabitants of Gothenburg. Of the 208 individuals examined at baseline, forty-nine per cent participated in the follow-up, 56, 37 and nine persons, respectively, in the age groups of 65, 75 and 85 years. In addition, a new random sample of 98 individuals aged 55 year was examined. The mean secretion rate decreased significantly with increasing age in terms of unstimulated and stimulated whole saliva. Of the 200 participants, 50% were taking medication, which could have hyposalivatory side-effects. Persons with a daily intake of ≥4 drugs had significantly lower unstimulated and stimulated secretion rates. Forty-five persons reported subjective dryness in the mouth. The mean saliva secretion rates among these persons were significantly lower and the number of drugs consumed significantly higher than in people with no such complaints. The overall salivary counts of lactobacilli and mutants streptococci increased with age. Higher counts of these bacteria were found in persons wearing removable dentures than in persons without dentures. The salivary and microbial conditions ought to be continuously monitored in old people, in order to identify those who need oral health promotive measures.
Keywords: elderly subjects, incidence, lactobacilli, mutans streptococci, salivary flow