No strong evidence for any topical treatments for relieving the symptoms of dry mouth


The subjective sensation of dry mouth or xerostomia is a common symptom and estimates of the prevalence vary from 10-50%.  The Cochrane Collaboration published systematic  of topical treatments for reducing the effects of dry mouth in 2011(Furness et al). Recently the American Dental Association’s Evidence-based Dentistry Center have published a critical summary of this review

The summariser notes that the review was of high quality, although, because of the range of interventions and variety of outcome measures only limited meta-analysis could be performed. The review included 36 trials in all, 17 of which were of high risk of bias. 18 of unclear risk  leaving only 1 with a low risk of bias.  Many of the trials also included only a small number of participants.

Overall the review found no strong evidence that any topical therapy is effective for relieving the symptom of dry mouth.


ADA-CEBD  Critical summary – No evidence-based recommendation for topical interventions that effectively relieve dry mouth symptoms

Furness S, Worthington HV, Bryan G, Birchenough S, McMillan R. Interventions for the management of dry mouth: topical therapies. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2011, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD008934. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008934.pub2.

The Dental Elf  on Furness et al review – Dec 14th 2011


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Derek Richards

Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.

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