Date of this Version
Dysphagia 2018. Published online 14 May 2018.
Non-food gustatory stimulation has multiple potential therapeutic benefits for people with dysphagia and xerostomia. This study examined palatability and saliva flow associated with dissolvable flavored films. Taste strips with real-food flavors dissolved on the tongues of 21 persons with dysphagia and/or xerostomia and 21 healthy age- and sex-matched adults while sublingual gauze pads absorbed saliva over randomized 3-min trials. Participants rated taste enjoyment for each trial on a hedonic general labeled magnitude scale. Flavored strips elicited more saliva than baseline for both groups, and production was higher for controls than patients (M = 2.386 and 1.091 g, respectively; p = 0.036). Main effects of flavor were observed for saliva production (p = 0.002) and hedonics (p<0.001). Hedonic ratings and saliva production were weakly correlated (r = 0.293, p<0.001). Results support dissolvable taste strips as a tool for providing low-risk taste stimulation in dysphagia and for eliciting an increase in saliva flow that may provide temporary relief from dry mouth symptoms. The preferred flavors were, on average, also the ones that elicited greater saliva production. Taste strips have the potential to be beneficial for swallowing-related neural activity, timing, and safety in dysphagia. Further, they may ameliorate complications of xerostomia.