Dry Mouth: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments


Dry Mouth is a problem for approximately 20 to 30 percent of people in the United States, and about 40 percent of seniors suffer from dry mouth, says an online research review supported by Delta Dental. That means that dry mouth affects a lot of people! Perhaps you are one of those who suffer from dry mouth and who are seeking answers.


A 2016 American Dental Association (ADA) article by the Center for Scientific Information at the ADA Science Institute explains that dry mouth symptoms can range from mild oral discomfort to significant oral disease. The article adds that dry mouth can cause difficulty with tasting, chewing and swallowing, and that it can increase a person’s chance of developing dental decay, demineralization of teeth, tooth sensitivity and/or oral infections.

A 2015 ADA article says that decreased saliva can also cause dry, cracked lips, a rough tongue, bad breath and infections on the surface of the tongue, cheeks or gums. Dry mouth can even impact the fit of one’s dentures.


The 2015 ADA article addresses the possible causes of dry mouth. A summary of these causes are listed below:

Medical Conditions:

  • Sjögren (SHOW-grin) syndrome, a disorder in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture-producing glands, including the salivary glands
  • Emotional states, such as depression or anxiety

Medical Treatments:

  • Head and neck radiation can impact the salivary glands and reduce the flow of saliva

Some Medications Used For:

  • Allergies
  • Cold symptoms
  • Blood pressure
  • Pain relief
  • Depression


  • Mouth breathing
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Using tobacco products


The 2015 ADA article recommends first visiting your dentist who can perform an examination, and gain information about your symptoms, overall health and medical history (including medications you are currently taking). Once your dentist helps you identify what may be the source of your dry mouth, they can help you better assess what may help minimize it. Below is a summary of some possible treatments:

  • Use a special gel or rinse designed to keep your mouth moist
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies
  • Suck on ice chips
  • Sip water with meals to aid in chewing and swallowing food
  • Use an alcohol-free mouth rinse
  • Avoid carbonated drinks (like soda), caffeine, tobacco and alcohol
  • Use a toothpaste or mouth rinse that has fluoride in it to help protect your teeth, or a fluoride gel or fluoride-containing rinse given during your dental visit
  • Maintain regular and proper oral hygiene (brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and receive regular dental cleanings and oral examinations)

We at Boulevard Dental Associates don’t want you to suffer in silence with your dry mouth symptoms. Visit us or your current dentist to identify the possible causes and treatments for your dry mouth. You are not alone!

Delta Dental – http://www.nedelta.com/Oral-Health-and-Wellness/Articles/Dry-Mouth-(Xerostomia)
ADA – http://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/xerostomia