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Dry Mouth - Causes and Prevention

If your mouth often feels dry and uncomfortable you may have xerostomia, or dry mouth. It’s a common condition that occurs when the amount of saliva in your mouth dries up. We all need saliva to keep our mouths moist, wash away food and neutralize the acids produced by bacteria to prevent cavities. A reduced saliva flow may lead to all kinds of problems, including bad breath, cavities, gum disease, mouth infections and difficulty swallowing, eating or talking.

Dry mouth is not a disease. It’s a side effect of certain medications or a symptom of certain diseases or medical conditions.

Causes of dry mouth

  • Medications, especially those for anxiety, depression or hypertension

  • Medical conditions, like diabetes and autoimmune diseases

  • Medical treatments such as radiation therapy

  • Aging

  • Dehydration

  • Anxiety

  • Alcohol and smoking (tobacco, marijuana, vaping)

  • Too much caffeine


  • Drink lots of water throughout the day. When your body is properly hydrated, your saliva glands will be better able to do their job.

  • Cut back on coffee and black tea since they have a lot of caffeine. Also limit alcohol intake and smoking (tobacco, marijuana, vaping).

  • Use sugar-free candies or gum to keep the saliva flow going.

  • Use non-alcohol-based mouthwash or a mouthwash specially formulated to treat dry mouth.

If dry mouth is an ongoing problem, talk to your dentist/periodontist about it. They can offer tips and also keep an eye on your mouth to make sure no tooth decay sets in.


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