What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry Mouth Causes

Having a dry mouth can be annoying and uncomfortable and identifying the cause may help provide some relief for those who suffer from chronic xerostomia (dry mouth)

Medication causes dry mouth


The Oral Cancer Foundation suggests that the leading cause of dry mouth is medication as more than 400 commonly used drugs can cause xerostomia. Namely anticholinergics, antihistamines, antipsychotics, antidepressants, anorexiants, antihypertensives, anti-Parkinson agents, diuretics and sedatives. These drugs affect the quantity and quality of saliva, however generally these effects are not permanent. Visit the Oral Cancer Foundation’s website for a full list of medications.


Cancer treatment cause dry mouth

Cancer Treatment

Acute dry mouth symptoms from radiation is due to an inflammatory reaction, and may resolve itself given ample time. Late xerostomia, which can occur up to one year after radiation therapy, results from fibrosis of the salivary gland and is usually permanent. Often times radiation results in a reduction in saliva and increased viscosity of the saliva. Patients may also report thick or sticky saliva.

Patients experiencing dry mouth from radiation therapy or cancer chemotherapy are at particular risk of infections from normal oral flora. The Oral Cancer Foundation goes into more detail on this condition.



Sugar diabetes


Diabetes often causes chronic dry mouth, which occurs when blood sugars are higher than normal. When this occurs, ketones lose fluid or not enough saliva is produced to keep your mouth moist. This can cause severe dehydration and dry mouth as well as difficulty chewing and swallowing food. Additionally, dry mouth and nose may be the early warning sign of an associated autoimmune disease, such as Crohn’s or Sjogren’s syndrome, a condition that attacks glands that produce mucous. Furthermore, patients with HIV are also much more prone to getting dry mouth.

Alzheimers causes dry mouth

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease or stroke may alter the ability to perceive oral sensations. People with Alzheimer’s are at higher risk as they may not drink enough water because their body’s signal for thirst isn’t as strong as it was. Some medicines can dry out their mouth, too. Without enough saliva to wash away bacteria, people are more likely to develop bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. They also might find it hard to speak or chew and they may notice food doesn’t taste like it used to.

tobacco causes dry mouth


Tobacco use is another big contributor to dry mouth as smoking can slow down saliva production. Moreover, alcohol can dry out the mouth and accentuate your symptoms as well. Poor saliva production, in combination with dry mouth and tobacco, can cause bad breath as well. Smoking can also lead to gum disease, tooth decay, heart disease and other issues.

Why Should I Be Concerned?


Dry Mouth Can Lead To Gum Disease

Not only is having a dry mouth an annoyance, it can also lead to gum disease. Older people frequently suffer from dry mouth but it isn’t necessarily age related.  It’s more likely due to other health issues that require medications, which in turn cause dry mouth. The reason dry mouth and chapped lips are not only annoying and uncomfortable but a heath concern is that saliva washes away plaque bacteria and people suffering from xerostomia need to pay especially close attention to their daily oral health.



  1. The key to good oral health begins at home; brush and floss twice daily. Proper diet and nutrition are also essential in preserving a healthy mouth and healthy body too!
  2. Regular dentist visits are also important for the prevention of gum disease. Your dentist can remove tartar, which is plaque buildup that can irritate the gums and lead to tooth loss, dry mouth and bad breath. Seriously consider a visit to your dentist soon if you haven’t recently.
  3. If you’re a tobacco user, consider cutting back or stopping altogether. We know it’s never easy to break a habit even when we know it’s bad for us, but we only get one set of teeth and they’ll thank you for taking better care of them.
  4. If your dry mouth is caused by medication, talk with your medical professional about the possibility of changing medications. There may be alternatives you can take that may reduce the symptoms of your dry mouth.


Dr. Nemeth Dr. Katranji

Prevent Gum Disease

Dry mouth isn’t fun and can be especially prevalent in the winter or colder months, but we hope these tips will help lead you to a happier and healthier mouth. Also, keeping on top of your oral health and watching for signs of gum disease can benefit you in the long run. Early treatment of your gum disease can preserve your smile and teeth.


Your health matters to us. If you have any questions concerning this post or an issue you’re having with dry mouth, call us at (248) 357-3100 today. We’re always happy to hear from our awesome patients!


The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.