What Can Cause a Dry Mouth?

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Maintaining your oral health is just as important as maintaining your physical health. Many patients may not realize that improper oral treatment can lead to severe side effects, such as halitosis or periodontal disease. However, a more common side effect that can develop from bad oral hygiene is dry mouth. Having a dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, can create discomfort and embarrassment for many people. If you feel uncertain about whether or not you are suffering from dry mouth, below we have provided some information to help you determine your condition.


Do I Have Dry Mouth?

Although many people find saliva disgusting, it plays a crucial role in keeping your mouth healthy. It helps to prevent infections, manage fungi and bacteria, and helps you digest your food and beverages. When your mouth does not produce enough saliva, it can harm your teeth and overall oral health. Dry mouth can also increase your risk of developing gum disease (gingivitis), mouth infections, and tooth decay. Some common symptoms of dry mouth are:

  • Frequent thirst
  • Scratchy throat
  • Mouth sores
  • Tightness around the mouth
  • Chapped lips
  • Bad breath
  • A dry, sticky feeling in the mouth
  • Rough, dry tongue
  • Difficulty swallowing


While most cases of dry mouth develop when a person is accustomed to breathing from their mouth, it can also be caused by certain lifestyle habits. Below is a list of possible causes of dry mouth to can help you adjust your everyday routine for a cleaner, healthier mouth.

Smoking and Drinking

Smoking and drinking alcohol on a regular basis is already considered bad for your health. What many patients may not know is that the more you smoke, drink, or chew tobacco, the less saliva your mouth produces. Try cutting back and instead try sugar-free gum or candy to help moisten your mouth.


While tasty, sugary and caffeinated drinks like soda and coffee can affect your overall oral health. If you are not consuming the necessary amount of water, chances are that is what is causing your dry mouth. Making sure to drink plenty of water will not only hydrate your body, but it will also help keep your mouth moist.

Aging and Certain Medications

While dry mouth is not necessarily a natural effect of aging, older patients may experience this condition because they tend to take more prescription and nonprescription drugs. This includes medication for:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Acne
  • Asthma
  • Nausea

If you believe your dry mouth is a result of a particular medication, be sure to talk with your doctor and dentist regarding your concerns. If possible, they will adjust your dose or have you switch to a different medication. An oral rinse may also be recommended to help restore moisture to the mouth. However, the best way to deal with dry mouth is to visit your dentist regularly.

To learn more about dry mouth, please contact La Jolla Cosmetic Dentistry and Orthodontics at (858) 295-0603.