Document Type: Original Article


1 Dept. of Oral Medicine and Radiology, ITS Centre for Dental Studies and Research, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.

2 Dept. of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Rama Dental College, Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India.

3 Dept. of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Subharti Dental College, Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India.

4 Dept. of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, SBB Dental College, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.


Statement of the Problem: Treatment with salivary substitutes and stimulation of salivary flow by either mechanical or pharmacologic methods has side effects and only provides symptomatic relief but no long-lasting results.Purpose: To assess the effectiveness of extraoral transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation (TENS) as a mean of stimulating salivary function in healthy adult subjects; as well as to determine the gender and age-dependent changes in salivary flow rates of unstimulated and stimulated parotid saliva.Materials and Method: Hundred patients were divided into two groups; Group I aged 20-40 and Group II aged ≥ 60 years. The TENS electrode pads were externally placed on the skin overlying the parotid glands. Unstimulated and stimulated parotid saliva was collected for 5 minutes each by using standardized collection techniques.Results: Eighty seven of 100 subjects demonstrated increased salivary flow when stimulated via the TENS unit. Ten experienced no increase and 3 experienced a decrease. The mean unstimulated salivary flow rate was 0.01872 ml/min in Group I and 0.0088 ml/min in Group II. The mean stimulated salivary flow rate was 0.03084 ml/min (SD= 0.01248) in Group I, and 0.01556 ml/min (SD 0.0101) in Group II. After stimulation, the amount of salivary flow increased significantly in both groups (p< 0.001). Statistical comparison of the two groups revealed them to be significantly different (p< 0.001), with Group I producing more saliva. Gender-wise, no statistically significant difference was seen among the subjects in Group I (p = 0.148), and those in Group II (p= 0.448). Out of 12 subjects with 0 baseline flows, 7 continued to have no flow. Five subjects observed side effects, although minimal and transient.Conclusion: The TENS unit was effective in increasing parotid gland salivary flow in healthy subjects. There was age-related but no gender-related variability in parotid salivary flow rate.