Dry Mouth: A Side Effect That’s More Than Just an Annoyance


Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a common condition that occurs when the salivary glands in the mouth do not produce enough saliva. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including medications, dehydration, and certain medical conditions.

While dry mouth may seem like a minor inconvenience, it can actually have a major impact on your oral health. Saliva is important for maintaining a healthy mouth, as it helps to neutralize acids, wash away food particles, and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Without enough saliva, your mouth can become dry and uncomfortable, and you may be at an increased risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems.

Symptoms of dry mouth include a feeling of thirst, a dry or sticky sensation in the mouth, dry or cracked lips, and bad breath. You may also experience difficulty swallowing, speaking, or tasting food. If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor or dentist.

Treatment for dry mouth depends on the underlying cause. If your dry mouth is caused by medication, your doctor may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication. If it is caused by dehydration, drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help. And if it is caused by a medical condition, treating the underlying condition may improve your symptoms.

In addition to seeking medical treatment, there are also some steps you can take to manage dry mouth at home. These include:

  • Sipping on water or sugar-free drinks throughout the day
  • Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy to stimulate saliva production
  • Avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, which can worsen dry mouth
  • Using a humidifier at night to add moisture to the air
  • Avoiding mouthwashes that contain alcohol, which can dry out the mouth
  • Using saliva substitutes or artificial saliva products

If you have dry mouth, it’s important to take good care of your oral health. This means brushing and flossing regularly, using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, and visiting your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. With the right treatment and care, you can keep your mouth healthy and comfortable, even with dry mouth.