What Causes Dry Mouth?

In addition to keeping the mouth moist, saliva aids in swallowing and removal of food from the teeth, food digestion, and speaking. Most of us go about our lives never giving a thought to the saliva in our mouth—until something happens and we begin to experience “dry mouth.”

What Are Some Causes of Dry Mouth?

Some medications, as well as medical treatments like radiation therapy for head and neck cancer, can result in lower production of saliva, a condition called “xerostomia.” Dry mouth is not only uncomfortable, the absence of sufficient saliva can affect overall oral health.

What Can Be Done to Help?

Tips for temporary relief for the symptoms of dry mouth:

  • Limit caffeine
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwashes and/or those developed specifically for dry mouth
  • Do not use tobacco
  • Drink water and stay hydrated
  • Chew sugar-free gum (to stimulate saliva production)
  • Suck sugar-free candies (to stimulate saliva production)
  • Do not use antihistamines/decongestants (may amplify symptoms)
  • Avoid mouth-breathing
  • Use a humidifier
Can Dry Mouth Be Cured?

There is no general cure for dry mouth as it depends heavily on the cause.  Treatment usually focuses on relieving symptoms following many of the tips listed earlier.  There are ongoing studies to address underlying conditions which may result in broader relief for suffers of dry mouth.


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