Relationship among perceived stress, xerostomia, and salivary flow rate in patients visiting a saliva clinic

Marjolein S. Bulthuis*, Derk H. Jan Jager, Henk S. Brand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: This aimed to assess the potential role of chronic stress in saliva secretion, xerostomia, and oral health in a population attending a saliva clinic. Materials and methods: Data of 114 patients who met the inclusion criteria and completed all questionnaires were analyzed in this study. Participants completed several validated questionnaires, including the Perceived Stress Scale, the Oral Health Impact Profile (OHIP-14), Xerostomia Inventory (XI), and Bother xerostomia Index (BI). Subsequently, the unstimulated, chewing-stimulated, and citric acid-stimulated saliva secretion rates were determined gravimetrically. Data were evaluated using Spearman’s correlation analysis and the Mann–Whitney U test. Results: A significant correlation was observed between perceived stress and XI score (r = 0.312, p = 0.001), as well as between perceived stress and BI score (r = 0.334, p = 0.001). Stress levels also were significantly associated with OHIP-14 scores (r = 0.420, p < 0.001), but an association between experienced stress and salivary flow rate could not be established. Conclusion: In this population, perceived chronic stress seems to be related to several aspects of dry mouth, including the perception of dry mouth, suffering from dry mouth, and the impact on quality of life. These effects were independent of the use of psychotropic medication. No actual reduction in salivary flow was found. Further studies to explore the causal linkage of stress with xerostomia seem warranted. Clinical relevance: Perceived chronic stress seems to be related with several aspects of dry mouth. This finding might be relevant in future prevention and treatment of xerostomia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3121-3127
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Oral Investigations
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2018

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