Most Common Causes Of Dry Mouth

September 3, 2023

Dry mouth is a condition associated with the reduction of the flow of saliva, which can become quite uncomfortable. Some of the symptoms that accompany dry mouth include difficulty swallowing or speaking, hoarseness, sore throat, and dried out sinuses. Sometimes, there is no identifiable cause, but various factors can also cause it. Common treatments for dry mouth include medication that increases saliva production, using mouthwashes intended for the treatment of dry mouth, chewing gum, drinking water regularly, avoiding caffeinated products, tobacco, decongestants, antihistamines, and using a humidifier. The following includes a closer look at the causes of dry mouth.

Tobacco And Alcohol

Tobacco and alcohol use are some of the main causes of dry mouth. Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which means it is dehydrating, causes increased urine production, and results in issues with regulating water in the body. Smoking can damage the glands responsible for producing saliva, as well as the glands responsible for tears. As a result, dry mouth and dry eyes can occur. If you are experiencing dry mouth and use either of these substances, it can be beneficial to quit using them all together. This can help alleviate symptoms and help you avoid other problems in the future.


Medication is another common cause of dry mouth. Those most commonly associated with dry mouth include, as previously mentioned, antihistamines and decongestants, as well as other medicines that treat various conditions, such as anxiety and depression, obesity, asthma, and high blood pressure. If you are using any over the counter or prescription medications and end up experiencing dry mouth, consult your doctor and try to find an appropriate resolution. It can also be beneficial to research all of the potential side effects of a medication before using it. Of course, keep in mind if there is no alternative, doctors will only prescribe medication if the consequences of not taking it far outweigh potential side effects.


Aging is often commonly associated with dry mouth, though it is not typically a natural part of the aging process. However, many older adults tend to take more medications that have dry mouth as a potential symptom. It is important for older individuals to seek counsel from their doctors because they are more susceptible to infections and dry mouth can lead to various complications and conditions, which should be avoided. For example, dry mouth can lead to tooth decay and other oral conditions, as well as inflammation, which can lead to an increased risk of candidiasis and other infections. Therefore, it is important for anyone with persistent dry mouth to seek medical assistance, including elderly individuals, to prevent further complications later on.

Cancer Treatment

Cancer treatment often leads to dry mouth in patients, as chemotherapy and radiation damage the salivary glands. Dry mouth caused by radiation therapy can be an ongoing issue. Sometimes the salivary glands will regain some level of function. However, it is unlikely they will return to their full capacity. Various methods are recommended for those dealing with dry mouth caused by cancer treatments. This includes keeping the lips and mouth moist by drinking lots of fluids or using a humidifier, taking medication, and following specific dietary recommendations to decrease the impact of dry mouth. These recommendations include avoiding acidic foods, such as citrus, foods that are too hot since they can burn the mouth, and cutting back on salty foods.

Other Health Conditions

Besides the previously mentioned issues, other health conditions can potentially lead to dry mouth. Common conditions associated with dry mouth include diabetes, which causes high blood sugar levels, which are thought to correlate with dry mouth; and stroke, which can cause the sensation or perception of dry mouth even though the salivary glands may be fully functioning. Others include yeast infections, Alzheimer's disease, and autoimmune conditions. Each of these has damaging effects on the body, and dry mouth is a symptom associated with them. It is important to understand the cause of your dry mouth because identifying it can make it easier to cope with and find the appropriate treatment. Your doctor can inform you as to whether or not your health conditions may be playing a role in your dry mouth and what you can do to prevent it.

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