Oral mucosal lesions in older people: relation to salivary secretion, systemic diseases and medications

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OBJECTIVES:To determine the prevalence of oral mucosal lesions in a sample of older Danish people and to investigate their associations with age, gender, systemic diseases, medications, xerostomia and salivary secretion.METHODS:A total of 668 community-dwelling individuals aged 65–95 years underwent a clinical examination, measurements of unstimulated and stimulated whole and labial salivary flow rates and an interview regarding xerostomia, general health, medication, tobacco and alcohol habits.RESULTS:Seventy-five per cent of all participants and 70% of the non-medicated ones had one or more oral mucosal lesions. The most prevalent lesions were lingual varicosities (28.3%), denture stomatitis (12.7%), candidiasis (11.8%), fissured tongue (9.1%) and frictional keratosis (8.4%). Lesions were generally associated with smoking and xerostomia. Varicosities were more common in participants with systemic diseases and medication intake, particularly with cardiovascular diseases and agents. Fissured tongue and atrophic tongue were associated with female gender, xerostomia and low unstimulated whole and labial salivary secretion. Oral candidiasis was associated with older age; being male; current smoker; having >3 diseases, intake of medications and low salivary flow rates; and identified in relation to denture stomatitis, fissured tongue and atrophic tongue and median rhomboid glossitis.CONCLUSIONS:Oral mucosal lesions are prevalent in older Danish people and generally associated with changes in both local and systemic factors. Tongue lesions in particular appeared as indicators that may identify patients with specific need of oral intervention.

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