Dry Mouth

Written By Sharon Boyd, RDH, BS.       |       Reviewed by Lara T. Coseo, DDS

 1 What is Dry Mouth
 2 What Causes Dry Mouth
 3 Signs And Symptoms of Dry Mouth
 4 Dangers And Health Risks of Dry Mouth
 5 How To Prevent Dry Mouth
 6 Treatments for Dry Mouth
      i.  Home Remedies for Dry_Mouth
      ii. Conventional Treatment for Dry Mouth
      iii. Essential Oils for Dry Mouth
 7 Your Questions About Dry Mouth Answered
 8 References

What is Dry Mouth

Dry mouth occurs when there is not enough saliva production in the mouth. Salivary production can decrease due to medications, cancer or other pathology, alcohol-containing mouth rinses, medical conditions, illegal drugs or medical treatments - such as radiation therapy. Not only is dry mouth uncomfortable, it can also make teeth more susceptible to decay due to lack of "washing" by saliva.

What Causes Dry Mouth

What causes dry mouth? Dry mouth or xerostomia is due to salivary gland shutdown, decreasing the amount of saliva flow inside of your mouth. It can be due to uncontrolled or underlying health conditions, but may also be associated with common everyday prescription medications, nutritional practices and the oral hygiene products that you use. Dry mouth can also appear suddenly, such as with anxiety or nervousness.

Dry mouth can have a number of causes, both internal and external. Examples include Sjogren's syndrome, diabetes, anemia, dehydration, side effects from medical treatments, damage to salivary glands and nerve damage. Certain prescription drugs list dry mouth as a side effect as well. Some of the types of drugs that can cause this are antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure drugs, anti-diarrheal, muscle relaxants, urinary incontinence drugs, Parkinson's disease drugs, chemotherapy, diabetes medications, and Alzheimer's disease drugs.

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Signs And Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of xerostomia are very straightforward:
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Oral tissues such as lips and cheeks sticking together
  • Redness or irritation of the oral tissues
  • Increase in tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Oral ulcers
  • Bad breath or halitosis
  • Inhibited sense of taste  

Some other things to look out for are saliva that seems thick or stringy, cracked lips, sore throat, fungal infection of the mouth, or increased plaque, tooth decay and gum disease.

Dangers And Health Risks of Dry Mouth

Our body produces saliva to keep the mouth lubricated throughout the day. This allows us to speak properly, chew and swallow our food, and reduce the amount of tooth decay by keeping a constant flow of saliva over the surfaces of the teeth. When we have a decreased amount of saliva in our mouth it can cause problems like raw, sore gums or tongue and an increased level of tooth decay.

Erosion of the teeth and gums may occur due to lack of lubrication in the mouth.

(1) A decrease in saliva may also contribute to periodontitis or gum disease, due to the body’s inability to protect the areas around the teeth from increased plaque buildup. 

(2) Dry mouth can sometimes be a warning sign for conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Sjögren's syndrome
  • Lambert-Eaton syndrome

The following are all conditions and diseases that can stem from germs and the diseases caused by dry mouth. They include bad breath, bleeding gums, canker sores, gingivitis, gum boils, gum disease, gum infection, loose teeth, mouth sores, periodontal disease, pyorrhea, receding gums, red gums, Sjogren's syndrome, swollen gums, thrush, tooth abscess, trench mouth, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, pre-eclampsia, preterm births, metabolic syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, erectile dysfunction, germs pneumonia, and diabetes.

How To Prevent Dry Mouth

How to Prevent Dry Mouth
  • The prevention of dry mouth involves careful reading of prescription and over-the-counter medication labels. Literally hundreds of everyday drugs such as decongestant use may cause dry mouth.
  • Use alcohol-free oral hygiene products. Many over-the-counter mouth rinses contain alcohol, which may kill of germs but also dry out your mouth. When the mouth is dry, there may be an increased risk of decay or infection due to the washing action of saliva.
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. If you allow yourself to become dehydrated or don’t have a nutritionally balanced diet, your saliva flow may be compromised. Avoid salty foods.
  • Keep your mouth free of germs. Boost your oral hygiene in order to help do the job of your saliva, thoroughly removing plaque buildup from around the teeth and gums.
  • Be sure to use a 100% pure botanical toothpaste and mouthwash that will kill harmful germs, promote natural saliva production and promote a healthy, balanced environment inside of your mouth.

Treatments for Dry Mouth

Most treatment for dry mouth involves home tips and over-the-counter products that are targeted toward alleviating the symptoms of dry mouth. Common over-the-counter dry mouth remedies include:
  • Artificial saliva
  • Oral sprays, rinses or gels
  • Chewing Xylitol containing gum

Conventional mouthwash for dry mouth or toothpaste for dry mouth may help to a degree, but many people complain that the products leave their mouth feeling slimy. The best alternative is to use a 100% pure botanical toothpaste/mouthwash combination that will promote a healthy environment in your mouth and support normal saliva production.

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Home Remedies For Dry Mouth

  • Frequent sipping of water
  • Using essential oils as part of your oral hygiene routine (3)
  • Management of gum infections and periodontal disease symptoms
  • Decreased salt intake
  • Avoiding medications such as antihistamines as they more commonly cause dry mouth than other over-the-counter medications

Candies and mints that contain sugar are not recommended as these can cause an increased rate of decay, especially for people who suffer from dry mouth.

Conventional Treatment for Dry Mouth In severe cases, prescription medication such as pilocarpine or cevimeline may be used to manage xerostomia and get rid of dry mouth.

Essential Oils for Dry MouthThere are some essential oils and certain blends of essential oils that can promote saliva production.  Most oils of are of the mint varieties.

Your Questions About Dry Mouth Answered

I have an extremely dry mouth. What can I do? First of all, take a look at any medications that you’re using which could be contributing to dry mouth. Secondly, discontinue using any alcohol-containing products such as mouth rinses. Lastly, treat any symptoms of gum disease that you are experiencing and use botanical oils to help boost your saliva production.

Why does my mouth get dry? Our mouth gets dry due to lack of stimulation or blockage of the salivary glands. This can be due to gum disease, systemic conditions, prescription medications or even anxiety.

Why do I have dry mouth in the morning? When your body is at rest, your salivary glands are as well. It is very common to have a drier mouth in the morning, but it should not be so dry that you can’t easily move your mouth without a sip of water.

Is dry mouth a symptom of diabetes? Glucose levels may also alter your salivary flow. So yes, dry mouth is sometimes seen in people with diabetes.

I have dry eyes and a dry mouth. What does this mean? This could be a condition of medications that you are taking, or a symptom of underlying conditions such as Sjögren’s syndrome.

I have dry mouth during pregnancy. Is this normal? Dry mouth may accompany many other conditions that you experience during pregnancy. Because of the increased risk of dental problems at this time - due to any vomiting - dry mouth may make it easier for you to develop dental problems. Stay hydrated and treat your symptoms of xerostomia. They ought to subside after you finish your pregnancy or breastfeeding.

I function okay with dry mouth. Do I still need to worry about it? Dry mouth should not be ignored. Having chronic dry mouth can increase your risk for dental diseases like tooth decay and periodontitis. It may also be a symptom of an underlying health condition.

What types of gum or mints are okay to suck on with dry mouth? Always choose sugar-free products, and ones that contain Xylitol if possible. These strengthen your teeth and won’t contribute to decay. If you’re looking to freshen your breath as well as treat dry mouth, you can use a drop or two of essential oils on your toothbrush two or three times a day.

Is dry mouth dehydration? Although dehydration can cause dry mouth, dry mouth is not always caused by dehydration. Other conditions can impact the amount of saliva produced by your salivary glands, causing chronic xerostomia (dry mouth) even if you’re fully hydrated.

Is dry mouth and dry eyes related? Since both your eyes and mouth contain moisture-secreting glands, it’s not uncommon for dry eyes and dry mouth to coexist. One example is a medical condition known as Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes classic cases of both dry eyes and dry mouth. If you’re experiencing both of these conditions at the same time, it’s important to speak with your physician.

What is dry mouth a sign of? Dry mouth is one of the most common medical side effects of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It is also linked with health conditions like menopause, cancer, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. The timing, duration, and severity of your dry mouth are crucial in pinpointing the cause.

Is it a sign of dehydration? If you are dehydrated, dry mouth will usually accompany the condition. That being said, even if you have enough fluids and are well hydrated, xerostomia can still exist.

What does xerostomia mean? Having xerostomia 'dry mouth' means that your saliva glands aren’t producing enough fluid for your mouth to stay moisturized. Depending on why your saliva glands are shutting down, the cause can vary from an autoimmune disease to pregnancy.

Is dry mouth dangerous? If dry mouth is a sign of an underlying, undiagnosed medical condition, then your health could be at stake. Abnormal dry mouth should be investigated by your dentist and doctor to determine the original cause. If symptoms continue to exist, it can place you at an extremely high chance of getting cavities.

What does dry mouth feel like? Having dry mouth can make your mouth feel sticky, rough, or even make it difficult to talk and eat because of your tongue and cheeks sticking in place. Sometimes a condition known as “burning mouth syndrome” (which feels exactly how it sounds) can accompany chronic dry mouth cases.

What does xerostomia look like? When someone without xerostomia opens their mouth, you can usually see saliva pooling in certain areas, a reflection of the moisture, or where strands of saliva stretch from one part of the mouth to another. But with dry mouth, the oral tissues will have more of a dull, matte appearance or even feel dry to the touch.

Why is my throat dry? A dry throat could be due to things like seasonal allergies, a post-nasal drip, strep throat, or mouth breathing. If it’s the latter, dry mouth may accompany your symptoms.

How does dry mouth affect your teeth? When someone has xerostomia (chronic dry mouth) it prevents saliva from coating the teeth with a “buffer” layer of protection against germs, acid, and sugars. People with dry mouth are at drastically higher rates of suffering from tooth decay, even if they brush and floss regularly. So, if you haven’t had cavities in the past but are starting to experience dry mouth, it’s important to treat the symptoms as quickly as possible.

Why do I have dry mouth but have to go to the bathroom a lot? Certain types of medical conditions can lead to increased urination while also having a dry mouth, such as pregnancy, type 2 diabetes, polydipsia, and endocrine disorders.

Why does it cause my tongue to be sore? Without enough lubrication inside of your mouth, it’s difficult for your tongue to move around when you’re speaking or eating. Over time, the added friction can cause chafing and ulcers.

Is dry mouth normal during pregnancy? Changing hormone levels, nausea (which plays into fluid intake) and even pregnancy diabetes can increase an expectant mother’s chance of having dry mouth. Since so many women experience dental problems for the first time when they’re pregnant, managing dry mouth and practicing good oral hygiene is essential.

Is dry mouth a sign of being in labor? There are a number of different symptoms a woman will experience while she’s in labor, some of which differ from case to case. Dry mouth is one of them.

Is dry mouth a sign of sign of pregnancy? For some women, yes. Since your body needs more fluids during pregnancy – and factors such as morning sickness or nausea come into play – some women do not get the amount of hydration that they need and as a result they experience xerostomia (dry mouth.)

Is it a symptom of menopause? Yes. Xerostomia (chronic dry mouth) is common in women going through menopause because of how estrogen levels impact saliva production. Low estrogen can also cause other oral side effects like ulcers, burning mouth syndrome, and issues with sloughing tissues.

Is it a symptom of hypothyroidism? Yes. People with thyroid diseases like hypothyroidism commonly experience dry mouth, although it’s not clear why. Screening for dry mouth symptoms could be one of the most effective ways to detect hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease.

Why do I have dry mouth when I wake up? Even if you never get dry mouth during the day, it’s not unheard of to wake up with “cotton mouth” in the mornings. A dry mouth while you sleep doesn’t necessarily mean you have xerostomia; it’s common to experience a natural decrease in saliva flow when you’re sleeping.

Which medications cause dry mouth? Dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of all prescription and over-the-counter medications. That being said, certain types of medicine are known for causing dry mouth, such as decongestants and antihistamines, antidepressants and antipsychotics, inhalers, blood pressure and heart medications, and diuretics.

Do antibiotics cause dry mouth? Yes. Some antibiotics are capable of causing dry mouth (especially the ones used for treating ear infections and respiratory tract infections like bronchitis.)

Do allergies cause dry mouth? Seasonal allergies tend to cause more mucous buildup and thicker saliva. However, taking allergy medications and antihistamines can directly lead to dry mouth as a side effect of the drug.

Do edibles cause dry mouth? Carbohydrates or salty snacks such as pretzels, crackers, or dry roasted nuts can lead to temporary dry mouth and enhanced thirst.

Does dry mouth cause oral thrush? If you have untreated dry mouth for an extended period of time, it can make you more likely to get oral thrush infections. Since saliva is crucial for having a naturally balanced oral flora, having more types of good or bad germs than others can increase your chances of developing thrush.

Does dry mouth cause bleeding gums? When your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva, it’s easier for gingival tissues to become injured during eating, brushing, or flossing. But the xerostomia (dry mouth) side-effects don’t stop there; a dry mouth can lead to increased germs plaque levels, which contribute to gum disease (and bleeding is one of the most common symptoms.)

Is dry mouth a symptom of HIV? HIV patients often experience dry mouth because of swollen saliva glands (which inhibit saliva production.) However, it’s usually more common to see dry mouth in HIV cases because of the strong prescription medication that’s being used.

Why do I get dry mouth on a Keto diet? Is it a sign of ketosis? People on a ketogenic diet often experience increased thirst and dry mouth because of cutting out processed foods with added sodium. In turn, the dry mouth during a keto diet – combined with ketosis – can contribute to additional oral problems like bad breath. Make sure to drink plenty of water and practice good oral hygiene.

Why is my mouth dry in the morning? Your saliva glands don’t produce very much saliva when you’re sleeping, if any at all. So, when you wake up the next morning it’s common for your mouth to feel dry and sticky. But don’t worry, once you start thinking about breakfast it won’t be long before your mouth is lubricated once again!

Why do I have dry mouth at night? Waking up with a “cotton mouth” is more common than you may think. Our body naturally slows down saliva flow when we sleep. So, if you wake up in the middle of the night, you’ll usually have dry mouth even if it’s not something you deal with during the day.

Why is my tongue dry? A lack of saliva can make your entire mouth feel dry, including your tongue. Even though saliva glands are scattered throughout your mouth, the constant flow coats every surface within your oral cavity. When they’re not working as they ought to, it can make your tongue feel dry and sticky.

Why are my lips dry? Chapped or dry lips are common signs of dehydration, sun damage, and vitamin deficiencies. They can also be a side effect of mouth breathing, or an allergic response to cosmetic products.

How do you prevent dry mouth while sleeping? There really isn’t a good way to prevent having a dry mouth while you sleep, but there are things you can do to limit its severity. For instance, drinking water before you go to sleep and using a saliva replacement spray or drops can aid in lubrication. If you use a CPAP or oral sleep appliance, dry mouth may be exacerbated.

Do statins cause dry mouth? Statins (cholesterol medications) are known to cause a variety of different oral side effects including dry mouth and a bitter taste.

Do antihistamines cause dry mouth? Yes. Since antihistamines and similar allergy medications “dry out” your nasal sinuses, they also impact saliva production inside of your mouth. Dry mouth is one of the top side effects of taking antihistamines.

Do probiotics cause dry mouth? Probiotics do not affect saliva production, but they can help to manage the unbalanced oral flora seen in people with dry mouth. If you’re prone to bad breath because of constant xerostomia, a probiotic may be useful for treating halitosis.

Is it a symptom of anxiety? People who suffer from nervous episodes or anxiety attacks often experience symptoms of dry mouth. Generalized anxiety disorder can cause an ongoing state of alertness, which may in turn contribute to chronic dry mouth as well as other side effects.

Is it a symptom of a heart attack? Although most people think of heart attack symptoms as shortness of breath and chest pain, other common red flags include jaw pain, arm pain, and dry mouth.

Is it a sign of a stroke? Having a stroke can impact the nerves inside of your mouth that are responsible for processing oral sensations and stimulating saliva flow. For some people, the damage can be so severe that their mouth is left feeling dry since their body is not processing the need to produce additional saliva.

Is it a sign of cancer? Dry mouth is a common side effect of cancer treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy of the head and neck (which inherently destroy saliva glands). Cancer patients may also experience a thicker saliva than normal.

Is it a symptom of MS? No. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) does not usually cause dry mouth. However, the medications that are used to help treat MS can cause side effects like xerostomia/dry mouth.

Is it a sign of diabetes? If you have yet to be diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to be aware that elevated blood sugar levels can cause dry mouth. If you’re experiencing other symptoms of diabetes, be sure to let your physician know.

Why do I get dry mouth with diabetes? High blood sugar levels can cause dry mouth. Additionally, people with diabetes are often on medication management programs to control their blood sugar and many of these medications often lead to side effects such as xerostomia (dry mouth) among others.

Can dry mouth cause diabetes? No. Diabetes is a medical condition that relates back to the endocrine system. It is not affected by how much saliva a person does or doesn’t have. But elevated blood sugar levels can impair saliva production.

Why do I get dry mouth when running? Efficient respiration is important for any athlete. Runners often experience dry mouth because of mouth breathing. Consequently, long-distance runners who fuel with sport gels and drinks tend to experience more cavities because of the increased sugar intake combined with a dry oral environment.

Why do I have dry mouth and diarrhea? Our gastrointestinal tract is a delicate system that’s interrelated from one end to the other (no pun intended.) It’s common for symptoms to co-exist. For example, if you’re nervous or anxious about something, your body may experience a “flight or fight” response where both dry mouth and diarrhea occur at the same time.

Why do I get dry mouth when I’m tired? As our bodies prepare to go to sleep, one of the things that our natural anatomy does is slow down saliva flow. So, if you’re sleepy, it’s not unheard of to experience dry mouth at the same time.

Why do I get dry mouth when I’m lying down? Our mouths naturally slow down saliva production when we lay down to go to sleep at night. But once we get up the next morning, saliva levels pick back up. That’s why symptoms of “cotton mouth” are usually most common first thing in the morning.

Do you get dry mouth when you’re sick? Dry mouth is a common symptom of many different types of illnesses, viruses, infections, and diseases. If the xerostomia does not improve after you recover from your sickness, be sure to speak with a dentist or doctor.

Does dry mouth cause bad breath? Yes, dry mouth/xerostomia can be a risk factor of halitosis. Since your mouth relies on a delicate balance of natural germs (flora) to stay healthy, having an imbalanced number of germs due to dry mouth can lead to issues like bad breath.

Can dry mouth cause tongue sores or tongue swelling? Not having enough lubrication inside of your mouth (due to a lack of saliva) can create the perfect environment for tongue sores. If you do develop lesions on your tongue, it’s natural for some minor inflammation or swelling to occur immediately around those sores. However, xerostomia will not inherently cause a swollen tongue.

Can dry mouth cause canker sores? Ulcers and canker sores can be caused by chronic irritation. Since saliva helps your oral mucous membranes glide against one another when you talk and eat, xerostomia can increase the friction inside of your mouth, potentially leading to sores such as ulcers in some areas.

Can dry mouth cause oral thrush? Since oral thrush is an opportunistic infection, it thrives when there is an imbalanced flora (natural germs) inside of the mouth. And since dry mouth can throw off germ levels, it’s more common for people with xerostomia to develop oral thrush.

Can dry mouth cause bleeding? Someone with a dry mouth could be more prone to bleeding, since saliva acts as a barrier that reduces friction on the gums. But xerostomia can also be a catch-22, in that someone with gum disease may or may not experience classic symptoms of heavy bleeding if they have dry mouth.

Can dry mouth cause cavities? Dry mouth/xerostomia is a huge risk factor for developing cavities. If you have dry mouth, your chances of getting new cavities are much higher than someone with normal saliva production, even if you practice normal oral hygiene like brushing and flossing.

Can dry mouth cause tooth decay? Yes. Anyone with xerostomia/dry mouth should know that one of the biggest risks is developing tooth decay because of their condition. Although the dryness isn’t necessarily the cause of the decay, it facilitates an environment that allows more rapid destruction of tooth enamel since there is no saliva to buffer the teeth.

Can it cause gum recession? Although gum recession is technically caused by factors like aggressive tooth brushing and periodontal disease, it can be exaggerated by xerostomia, since dry mouth makes it more challenging to recover from gum infections.

Can it cause a sore throat? Yes. With xerostomia, the lack of saliva coating the inside of your mouth and back of the throat can lead to irritation or burning sensations. Without enough saliva, food is more likely to rub or scratch your throat as you swallow.

Can dry mouth cause coughing? Coughing is usually the result of an irritant in the back of the throat, upper respiratory system, or in the lungs. Since saliva helps to capture particles inside of the mouth, one could theoretically say that it’s easier to inhale irritants and thus trigger coughing. But that’s quite a stretch! It’s more likely that the coughing is the cause of the dry mouth.

Can dry mouth cause nausea? No. Nausea is not related to dry mouth, but it’s not out of the equation that both are side-effects of the same underlying medical problem (such as pregnancy.)

Can dry mouth cause strep throat? No. Strep throat is a germ infection that is not related to the amount of saliva someone produces.

Does dry mouth cause fatigue? No. Although dry mouth can be a symptom of fatigue, stress, or anxiety, it doesn’t cause any of those conditions. Usually, xerostomia (dry mouth) is a sign that something else is going on with your body.

Do dentures cause dry mouth? As we get older, our saliva glands tend to not produce as much saliva as they did in years’ past. When you add a large removable prosthesis to the equation – and smaller saliva glands are potentially covered by the appliance –some people notice xerostomia the most when they start wearing dentures.

Can breastfeeding cause dry mouth? Nursing mothers know better than anyone that breastfeeding requires just as much rest, nutrition, and hydration as pregnancy does. If you’re not getting enough liquids throughout the day – combined with the stress of motherhood – you might find that dry mouth tends to flare up more frequently than before.

Do braces cause dry mouth? Typically, people in orthodontic appliances tend to experience excessive saliva rather than a lack thereof. But if your braces and fixed hardware make it difficult to keep your lips closed together, the inherent mouth breathing can aggravate symptoms of dry mouth.

Can steroids cause dry mouth? Yes. Depending on the type of steroid that you’re taking, xerostomia symptoms may be worse with some more than others. If you’re only taking steroids for short term or “as needed” purposes, chronic dry mouth shouldn’t be a major concern. However, if you’re on a long-term steroid and begin to develop dry mouth, be sure to incorporate an appropriate option for treating your xerostomia.

Does dry mouth cause snoring? Usually it’s the other way around. People who snore have their mouths open while they sleep, which naturally leads to dryness 'cotton mouth' when you wake up the next morning.

Will dry mouth go away on its own? Dry mouth isn’t something that usually occurs out of nowhere. More often than not, it’s the symptom of another underlying condition or medication that you’re taking. If you notice your xerostomia isn’t going away within a couple of weeks, talk to your doctor or dentist about factors that could be at play. If you’re not aware of any, dry mouth could be the first warning sign of an undiagnosed medical issue.

Can it be cured? Since dry mouth has a variety of causes, some can be cured while others cannot. Curing xerostomia might be as simple as changing the medication that you’re taking or treating nasal congestion, but for someone with an autoimmune disease or cancer, that may not be an option. For the latter, it’s best to treat the symptoms.

Why does my mouth get dry when talking? Some of us don’t make as much saliva as others. And when you combine the body’s natural tendency to shut down saliva production when we feel nervous (such as during public speaking) it’s a classic recipe for dry mouth! If you’re someone who does a lot of talking because of your job, be sure to treat your dry mouth throughout the day or use a saliva supplement (such as spray or drops) before speaking.

Why do I get dry mouth when I’m nervous? When we get nervous or anxious, it’s normal for our bodies to go into a “flight or fight” response. Our entire digestive system changes, we might get jittery, and even our mouths feel dry. Fortunately, all of these symptoms are temporary and improve once the period of nervousness has passed. If you’re planning on public speaking anytime soon (a known cause of nervousness for many people) plan to have a bottled water to sip on as needed.

Can dry mouth cause hoarseness? Your body relies on saliva to speak, chew (so that your tongue can move around,) and swallow (so that food glides down your throat.) But with dry mouth there isn’t enough lubrication for food to be adequately processed or swallowed. Over time, the lack of lubrication in the back of your mouth and upper digestive tract may lead to chronic hoarseness.

Can dry mouth cause a white tongue? White tongue is normally caused by germs buildup and poor oral hygiene. That being said, if you’re a mouth breather or have xerostomia, the lack of saliva may contribute to an imbalanced oral flora which can in turn contribute to white tongue. For best results, focus on brushing your tongue thoroughly each day and/or using a tongue scraper.

Why do I get dry mouth when fasting? If your fasting included a lack of hydration or you consumed caffeinated beverages instead of food (such as coffee) you may experience temporary dry mouth symptoms. Even if you’re getting plenty of water, the lack of electrolytes can affect your saliva production. Fortunately, xerostomia from fasting usually subsides as soon as you go back to a typical meal plan. If you are on an intermittent fasting plan, be sure to up your electrolyte intake during your planned meals.

Why do I get dry mouth after surgery? Surgical procedures often utilize medications (for sedation or pain management) that may cause temporary dry mouth symptoms. If you were intubated, your mouth would have been open throughout the duration of the procedure, leading to your oral mucosa drying out.

Why do I get dry mouth when vaping? Any type of inhalant, smoking, or vaping product can dry out your mouth because of the air, vapors, or fumes. Essentially, the mucous membranes inside of your mouth become dried out or even experience minor burns, which inhibit saliva production and make xerostomia worse. If you quit vaping, you can usually expect dry mouth symptoms to improve within a couple of weeks.

Will dry mouth from Wellbutrin go away? If you get dry mouth while you’re taking Wellbutrin, you can usually assume that the symptoms will continue for as long as you’re taking the prescription drug. But since Wellbutrin is vital to managing major depressive disorders or even smoking cessation plans, do not discontinue it without a doctor’s orders.

Will dry mouth from Prozac go away? Just like other antidepressant medications, Prozac is known for causing side effects like dry mouth/xerostomia. But since the benefits of mood management outweigh the disadvantages of dry mouth, it’s best not to discontinue taking your medication. You should expect symptoms to last for as long as you’re taking Prozac.

Will dry mouth from Zoloft go away? If you’re one of the people that experience dry mouth symptoms while taking Zoloft, you can expect the xerostomia to last for as long as you’re taking the medication. Talk with your dentist about how to treat dry mouth at home or about the best type of substitute to use during the day.

Is it a side effect of Prednisone? As a corticosteroid, Prednisone is used to manage everything from arthritis to skin diseases. Although dry mouth is a common side effect, so is unusual thirst. As such, it’s important that you’re drinking more water than anything else, as other types of beverages (including diet soda or sports drinks) can increase your chances of developing cavities.

Is it a side effect of Adderall? Yes. Dry mouth is one of the top side effects of the stimulant Adderall (which is used to help treat and manage ADHD). Other side effects include loss of appetite, stomachaches, and dizziness. Yet, the symptoms of dry mouth are typically worth the trade off for managing ADHD symptoms. However, since dry mouth increases the chances of developing cavities, and people with ADHD may not have very good oral hygiene, there’s an elevated risk of unwanted dental side effects.

Is it a side effect of Gabapentin? Some people do experience xerostomia when they’re taking Gabapentin. But since this medication is often used for treating shingles or herpes outbreaks, it’s unlikely that most people will be taking it for an extended period of time. That being said, Gabapentin is also used for treating seizure disorders, so those individuals may need to be more aware of whether dry mouth symptoms start to develop.

Is it a side effect of Levothyroxine? If you have hypothyroidism, your doctor may prescribe Levothyroxine to help regulate your body’s metabolism. However, people taking this medication commonly experience dry mouth because of the “antimuscarinic” properties that make up the drug. Dry mouth may not improve on its own if you’re taking Levothyroxine, so be sure to discuss a saliva substitution plan with your dentist.

Will dry mouth from Trazodone go away? Trazodone is a popular prescription antidepressant, making it one of the most common types of drugs to cause dry mouth symptoms. Since treating depression is essential to your well-being, you should not stop taking Trazodone because of xerostomia. Symptoms are unlikely to improve, so work with your dentist to find a solution for managing dry mouth at home.

Will dry mouth from Metformin go away? If you have diabetes, Metformin may be prescribed by your endocrinologist or physician to help manage your blood glucose levels. Unfortunately, some people do experience dry mouth while taking Metformin. Do not stop taking your medication, even if symptoms don’t improve. Ask your doctor about changing drugs if the symptoms worsen with Metformin; otherwise, use a home treatment for dry mouth or request a saliva substitute from your dentist.

Will dry mouth from antidepressants go away? Not usually. Dry mouth is typically just an ongoing side effect of most medications that are used to help manage depression and other mood disorders. Since getting off of an antidepressant may not be the best solution, it’s best to work with your dentist to treat your dry mouth symptoms.

What meds/drugs cause dry mouth? Dry mouth is probably the most common side effect of most prescription drugs. That being said, medications that are known for having a high chance of causing xerostomia include antihistamines and allergy meds, antidepressants, decongestants, diuretics, chemotherapy drugs, muscle relaxers, and appetite suppressants.

Will dry mouth from medications go away? Any medication-induced xerostomia will usually continue for the entire duration that the medication is taken. If you notice that one type of medicine makes your dry mouth worse, consider asking your physician if it’s okay to switch to a different one to see if symptoms improve.

Do inhalers cause dry mouth? Yes. Certain types of inhaler medications naturally dry out the mouth and also increase the rate of tooth decay. Since you shouldn’t give up using an inhaler, it’s important to rinse your mouth out thoroughly with water after each use.

Does a CPAP machine cause dry mouth? Since CPAP equipment forces air through your nose and mouth, it can inherently dry out your mouth while you’re sleeping. Ideally, you want to be inhaling through your nose while you sleep, with your mouth closed.

Will a humidifier help dry mouth? If you’re someone who is a “mouth breather” at night, then having a humidifier inside of your bedroom can help to increase the moisture in the air so that your mouth doesn’t dry out as much while you sleep.

Does dry mouth affect taste? Yes. Without saliva, it’s more difficult for food particles to break down inside of your mouth and thus reach the various taste buds. Since taste bud receptors process different types of taste depending on where they are in your mouth, dry mouth can alter what you don’t taste as much of.

Why is my mouth dry after drinking? Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages can naturally dry out your mouth after you drink them. If you’re having a beer or glass of wine at night, you’ll probably notice the dryness even more, since your saliva glands tend to start shutting down when you’re going to sleep.

Which foods cause dry mouth? You’re probably more likely to notice dry mouth from certain beverages than you are foods. But certain foods such as dry crackers, salty nuts or popcorn, and bread can all tend to dry your mouth out while you’re eating them.

Which vitamins cause dry mouth? An imbalance of vitamins can cause many changes in your body, including dry mouth. Magnesium is one example. If you’re vitamin D deficient, you may also experience a related condition known as “burning mouth syndrome.”

Which supplements cause dry mouth? If you’re using vitamin or herbal supplements, always check the label for common symptoms. Most herbal supplements are not regulated by the FDA, but they may still cause dry mouth, especially if used in excessive amounts. Cannabis/medical marijuana is also known for causing xerostomia or “cotton mouth.”

Can I exercise with dry mouth? Absolutely. In fact, exercise may induce dry mouth because of mouth breathing or dehydration. The important thing is to stay hydrated with water, sipping on it frequently throughout your workout. Opting for sports drinks in general can raise your risk of tooth decay, which can be compounded if you have dry mouth.

Will dry mouth from Paxil go away? Not usually. Antidepressants and other commonly prescribed medications often include dry mouth as a common side effect. One must weigh the pros and cons of the medication before deciding whether it’s worth discontinuing it because of xerostomia. In most cases, your doctor may prefer to use a saliva substitute or other dry mouth treatment instead of taking you off of Paxil.

Can dogs get dry mouth? Just like humans, dogs have saliva glands inside of their mouths that produce the right moisture levels. Certain medical disorders or medications prescribed by your vet could lead to decreased saliva and dietary changes.

I’ve had dry mouth for a month, what do I do? Ongoing xerostomia can lead to unwanted side effects such as tooth decay and gum inflammation. It’s important to determine the cause of your dry mouth so that you can take steps to treat it before problems get worse. Your dentist and medical doctor can help you determine if the symptoms are due to an underlying, undiagnosed medical problem.

Do dry mouth sprays or lozenges work? Both work but in different ways. With lozenges, having something in your mouth helps to stimulate saliva production (like when you eat). But with sprays or drops, a lubricating agent is placed directly into your mouth to replace the absent saliva.

What dry mouth products work? Most dry mouth products include moisturizing agents that help to lubricate your mucous membranes, such as rinses or drops. Other products that help to stimulate saliva production such as sugar-free lozenges are also effective as they trigger your mouth to start watering. Depending on the cause of your dry mouth, either one may be useful.


  1. Melville, N.; Inflammation Key To Understanding Periodontal Disease.; web 24 Jan 2012.
  2. Ram, S., Kumar, S., Navazesh, M.; Management Of Xerostomia And Salivary Gland Hypofunction.; J Calif Dent Assoc. 2001 Sep;29(9):656-9.
  3. Gutkowski, S.; Why, Dry?; web. 24 Jan 2012.

Article Written By Sharon Boyd

Article Written By Sharon Boyd

Sharon has been a Registered Dental Hygienist since 2001. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Relations and Business. In 2011, she began implementing her dental knowledge into freelance writing services that aided dentists, product designers, continuing education providers and web marketing firms for their online and distribution purposes. She has since bridged her services into the medical and cosmetic surgery fields.


 Lara T. Coseo, DDSArticle Reviewed by Dr. Lara Coseo

Lara T. Coseo, DDS, is a 2004 graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry.  She has 13 years of experience practicing general dentistry.  She currently serves as a part-time faculty instructor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry and writes dental website content and blog material.



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