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Dry Mouth

Dry Mouth


What you need to know about Dry Mouth

Xerostomia is another name for dry mouth. It happens when your mouth’s salivary glands don’t create enough saliva.

Your mouth will feel parched or dry as a result of this disease. Additionally, it may result in symptoms like cracked lips, poor breath, and a dry throat.

Your digestive system needs saliva to function properly. Your meal gets moistened and broken down with its aid. Additionally, it serves as an important defence mechanism for your body to maintain good oral health, shielding your mouth from tooth decay and gum disease.

On its own, dry mouth is not a major medical condition. However, it might occasionally be a sign of a different illness that needs medical attention. Additionally, issues like tooth decay and ulcers in the mouth may result.

Symptoms of dry mouth

A sticky or parched sensation develops in the mouth when one has a dry mouth. Other typical signs include:

  • Difficulties with chewing, talking or swallowing
  • Difficulty tasting food or beverages
  • A tongue-burning sensation
  • Cracked lips
  • Mouth sores
  • Dry tongue
  • Throat is dry
  • A foul breath


Your doctor may diagnose dry mouth if you are experiencing all or most of the following signs and symptoms and your saliva production is inadequate:

  • A dry tongue or a sensation of stickiness.
  • Extremely thick and stringy saliva.
  • Bad breath
  • Chewing, speaking, and swallowing are all challenging
  • A throat that is dry or painful and hoarseness
  • A tongue that is dry or grooved


A dry mouth can be caused by many things. Furthermore, simply having a dry mouth does not always indicate an underlying disease.

It’s crucial to discuss diagnosis and treatment options with your doctor if you suspect a different ailment is to blame or if you experience additional symptoms.

These are some potential reasons for dry mouth:

  • Dehydration. When your body loses too much fluid without being restored, dehydration results. Vomiting, diarrhoea, extreme perspiration, or blood loss can all cause this. Your mouth may feel dry when you are dehydrated because your body doesn’t create as much saliva as normal.
  • Medication. Many different kinds of drugs may have a side effect called dry mouth. Some of the most popular drug classes that have been linked to dry mouth include those used to treat depression, anxiety, diarrhoea, high blood pressure, and asthma. Diuretics, some chemotherapeutic drugs, and antihistamines can all decrease salivation. Before stopping any medications that you believe may be causing mouth dryness, it’s crucial to speak with your doctor.
  • Radiation therapy. The side effect of radiation therapy to the head or neck frequently causes dry mouth. Radiation affects the salivary glands, which results in less saliva output.
  • Anxiety & Stress. Your body produces more cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” when you’re apprehensive or stressed. Your saliva’s composition can change as cortisol levels rise, which can leave your mouth feeling dry.
  • Ageing. As you age, dry mouth is a normal occurrence. This can be the result of medical conditions, particular prescriptions, or adjustments in how well your body can process the medicines you take.
  • Snoring & Mouth Breathing. The saliva in your mouth evaporates when you breathe through it. Similarly, disruptive snoring can occur when your mouth is open. This can make your mouth dry or make it much dryer already.
  • Recreational drug use and smoking. Saliva production can be decreased by cannabis and tobacco smoking. Additionally, methamphetamine use can cause extreme mouth dryness.

Illnesses that can result in dry mouth

In addition, a number of medical conditions, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease. A person’s capacity to maintain proper hydration may be affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, those who have Alzheimer’s disease may find it challenging to take dry mouth medicine as directed.
  • Autoimmune disorders. Your immune system misfires and attacks your body when you have an autoimmune disorder. Sjögren’s syndrome is the most typical autoimmune disorder connected to dry mouth. This condition causes inflammation in the salivary glands, which causes dry mouth. Rheumatoid arthritis and HIV/AIDS are two more autoimmune conditions that can result in dry mouth.
  • Cystic fibrosis. A hereditary disorder called cystic fibrosis harms the respiratory and digestive systems. Salivary glands’ ability to operate may be negatively impacted. Drugs used to treat cystic fibrosis may make dry mouth worse.
  • Diabetes. For both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, dry mouth is a typical symptom. The production of saliva may be impacted by elevated blood sugar levels, which could result in a dry mouth. Dehydration is a common risk factor for diabetics, who also frequently take drugs that can dry out the mouth.
  • Nerve damage. Your salivary glands’ capacity to generate saliva may be impacted by an injury, illness, surgery, stroke, or other condition that damages the nerves in your head or neck. A dry mouth may arise from this.
  • Oral thrush. A yeast infection of the mouth is known as oral thrush. Inflammation brought on by the infection can harm your salivary glands. The glands may therefore struggle to produce adequate saliva.


Insufficient saliva can cause dry mouth, which can result in:

  • Gum disease, teeth decay, and more plaque
  • Oral sores
  • Infection with yeast in the mouth (oral thrush)
  • Cracked lips, sores, or split skin around your mouth’s corners
  • Nutritional deficiencies brought on by difficulties swallowing and chewing

When to call a doctor

If you experience any symptoms of dry mouth, consult a physician or dentist. If you don’t currently have a dentist, the Healthline FindCare feature can suggest possibilities in your neighbourhood.

Make an appointment with a doctor or dentist if you experience persistent symptoms like:

  • Your throat or tongue feels dry
  • Thick saliva
  • Rough tongue
  • Mouth sores
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Persistently changed sense of taste
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go better with proper dental care

Make an appointment with your doctor if you believe that medications are the source of your dry mouth or if you experience additional signs of a medical issue.

To help identify the source of your dry mouth, your doctor may ask you to submit blood tests and evaluate how much saliva you make. Your doctor might make therapy recommendations after determining the source of your dry mouth.

It’s also crucial to visit your dentist if you’ve experienced recurrent dry mouth so they can look for indications of tooth decay.


Your doctor will likely evaluate all of your current prescriptions to determine which ones might be the source of your dry mouth. Your doctor might modify one or more of your prescriptions or suggest that you adjust the dosage.

In order to boost saliva production in your mouth, your doctor may potentially prescribe artificial saliva or drugs.

Future treatments for dry mouth may include procedures to regenerate or repair salivary glands, however, a 2016 review found that more study is still required in this area.

Tips for treatment at home

Usually a transient and treatable condition, dry mouth. The majority of the time, you may avoid and treat dry mouth symptoms at home by doing one or more of the following:

  • Drinking water all day long
  • Ice cubes in the mouth
  • Limiting caffeine and alcohol
  • Reducing salt and sugar consumption
  • Avoiding using tobacco or illicit drugs
  • Using a humidifier while sleeping in your bedroom
  • Using commercially available saliva replacements
  • Consuming sugar-free hard candy or chewing gum
  • Utilising toothpaste, rinses, and mints available over the counter

Additionally crucial are regular tooth brushing, daily flossing, and twice-yearly dental exams. Gum disease and tooth decay, which can be brought on by dry mouth, can be avoided with proper dental hygiene.

You might need extra therapy if a health condition underlies your dry mouth. Find out more about your unique disease, available treatments, and long-term prognosis by speaking with your doctor.

Tooth decay and dry mouth

There are numerous uses for saliva. Saliva serves a variety of functions, one of which is to help keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free by shielding them from damaging germs thanks to its antibacterial proteins.

A dry mouth promotes the growth of bacteria that cause cavities.

You can do the following things to stop a dry mouth from causing tooth decay:

  • Drink water frequently to flush out extra food, trash, and bacteria.
  • Gum without sugar can be chewed to increase salivation.
  • Increase the humidity inside by using a humidifier.
  • In order to make sure you don’t have any cavities, get regular dental checkups.
  • Take any artificial saliva or drugs for dry mouth as prescribed by your doctor.


On its own, dry mouth is not a major medical mouth condition. However, it might occasionally be a sign of a different illness that needs medical attention.

Dry mouth problems are frequently treatable at home with self-care. But be sure to consult your doctor if your symptoms persist. They can adjust any medications that may be affecting your symptoms or look for any underlying illnesses that might be the cause.

It’s crucial to take proper care of your teeth by brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist on a regular basis if you suffer from dry mouth. By doing this, you might help avoid gum disease and tooth decay brought on by a dry mouth.