004 – The PREVENT study: Reducing the X factor – understanding the relationship between general practice prescribing and xerostomia

  • Chief Investigator A: Dr Denise Bailey
  • Chief Investigator B: Dr Margaret Stacey
  • Chief Investigator C: A/Prof Marie Pirotta
  • Chief Investigator D: A/Prof Meredith Temple-Smith
  • Research Assistants: Natalie Appleby, Karen Escobar and Wendy Thomson
  • Support: IADR/Colgate Community Based Research Award for Caries Prevention


Dry mouth is a pervasive problem that can lead to an increased risk of oral and general health problems. Many dry mouth sufferers report a decrease in their quality of life. Dry mouth is much more common in those taking certain medications and, as our population ages, the number of people taking multiple medications is rapidly increasing. General medical practitioners (GMPs) prescribe medications that can cause dry mouth on a daily basis and frequently come into contact with a group of people who may have dry mouth; GMPs are therefore ideally placed to give initial advice to their patients with dry mouth.


  • Improve the level of knowledge of GMPs regarding the oral health risks of prescribing medications causing salivary deficiency
  • Use GMPs as a first line for identifying those at increased risk from dental caries (and other saliva-related oral health problems)
  • Equip GMPs to provide general oral health advice


The project successfully created and used a model that helped GMPs to identify patients at risk of dry mouth, diagnose dry mouth and implement a dry mouth management program that included improved communication between GMPs and dental professionals.

The project developed:

  • An education program to show GMPs how to identify patients at risk of oral health problems caused by dry mouth, and improve patient oral and general health outcomes through enhanced knowledge
  • Fact sheets for practitioners and patients: