Dry mouth is a decrease in the amount of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is often called â€œspitâ€ or â€œdroolâ€. You make saliva all the time to help keep your mouth moist.
What is the cause?
Dry mouth often happens because of taking a medicine to:
Treat depression or anxiety
Lower high blood pressure or cholesterol
Treat Parkinson’s disease
Help your body get rid of excess fluid
Treat ulcers or acid reflux
Dry mouth also can be caused by:
Infection or a disease of a salivary gland, such as SjÃ¶grenâ€™s syndrome, which causes your immune system to attack and destroy the glands that produce tears and saliva
Dehydration (a loss of too much fluid from your body due to not drinking enough, having diarrhea, or vomiting)
Breathing through your mouth because of a stuffy nose or sleep apnea
Radiation treatment to the head or neck
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms may include:
A lack of moisture in your mouth
A sticky feeling or mild burning feeling in your mouth
Trouble swallowing or speaking
A change in how foods taste or a loss of your sense of taste
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider or dentist will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. You may have scans of the salivary glands or blood tests to check for possible causes of your symptoms.
How is it treated?
Treatment depends on how severe the problem is and what is causing it:
You may need to drink more fluids.
If your dry mouth is the side effect of medicine you are taking, your healthcare provider may change the dosage or prescribe a different medicine.
You may also want to try special mouthwashes, gum, toothpaste, and moisturizing gels created to help people who have dry mouth. Ask your healthcare provider or dentist about these products. Donâ€™t use mouthwashes containing alcohol because they can dry out your mouth.
Your provider may prescribe medicine to help you make more saliva.
How can I take care of myself?
Some things you can do to help take care of yourself are:
Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water, unless your healthcare provider has told you to limit your fluids.
Sip water often, especially when you are talking a lot.
Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies to help you make more saliva.
Use a humidifier to put more moisture in the air. Avoid steam vaporizers because they can cause burns. Be sure to keep the humidifier clean, as recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s important to keep bacteria and mold from growing in the water container.
Use lip balm for dry, cracked lips.
Clean your teeth well. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Brush for at least 2 minutes, at least twice a day. Floss once a day. See your dentist and dental hygienist as often as recommended for checkups and cleanings.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-06-17 Last reviewed: 2014-07-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Dry Mouth: References
WebMD.Oral Health â€“ Dental Health and Dry Mouth. 6/2012. Accessed 7/2014 from
Petrone D; Condemi JJ; Fife R; Gluck O; Cohen S; Dalgin P. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of cevimeline in Sjogren’s syndrome patients with xerostomia and keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Arthritis Rheum 2002 Mar;46(3):748-54.
UpToDate v18.2, 2010, Treatment of Sjogrenâ€™s Syndrome (accessed 8/12/2010).
Vivino FB; Al-Hashimi I; Khan Z; LeVeque FG; et al. Pilocarpine tablets for the treatment of dry mouth and dry eye symptoms in patients with Sjogren syndrome: a randomized, placebo-controlled, fixed-dose, multicenter trial. P92-01 Study Group. Arch Intern Med 1999 Jan 25;159(2):174-81.