What is Dry Mouth?

What is Dry Mouth?

Do I Have Dry Mouth?

Saliva is the key to keeping our mouth moist, keeping our mouth clean, and properly breaking down the food we eat. But what happens when you don’t have enough saliva? And why does that happen?

Dry mouth and the resulting side effects such as tooth decay, gum disease, and infections can significantly decrease your oral health. Here’s how to recognize the signs of dry mouth as well as its causes.

Causes of Dry Mouth

1. Dehydration

You may experience a temporary dry mouth due to dehydration because your body does not have enough water to keep your mouth moist. This can simply be fixed by drinking plenty of water!

2. Medications

Many prescription and non-prescription medications can cause dry mouth, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease medications
  • Anticholinergics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Antipsychotics
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Bronchodilators
  • Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Heart medications
  • Stimulants

3. Medical Treatments and Issues

In addition to specific medications, certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can potentially damage your salivary glands and cause dry mouth.

Nerve damage, aging, and other health conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Sjogren's syndrome, or HIV/AIDS can also cause dry mouth.

4. Lifestyle Choices

If you use tobacco products such as cigarettes, chewing tobacco, etc., you may develop a plethora of oral health concerns including dry mouth and oral cancer. These products can lessen the amount of saliva you produce.

Mask-wearing can cause your mouth to become dry, as we’ve seen over the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other lifestyle habits such as recreational drug use and breathing through your mouth often can also cause dry mouth.

What are the Signs of Dry Mouth?

Now that you know the causes of dry mouth, here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Your mouth and/or throat feeling sticky and dry
  • A burning sensation in your mouth
  • A sore throat and dry nasal passages

Dry Mouth and Other Oral Health Concerns

Having a dry mouth for a prolonged period of time can cause you to struggle with tooth decay, gum disease, thrush, or another infection. If left untreated, you could also lose teeth or damage your jawbone, which could require additional surgical or restorative treatment to resolve.


At Robert A. Neal, DDS Family Dentistry, Dr. Neal provides dental care for the whole family, including the elderly and children. To book your first appointment with our team, contact us at: (972) 200-0656
Categories: