Six Main Causes of Xerostomia or Dry Mouth

Six Main Causes of Xerostomia or Dry Mouth

Causes of Dry Mouth Xerotomia
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Dry mouth, or xerostomia to medical professionals, occurs in 25% of older adults and has even been reported to occur in 10% of adults in their 30’s.  Dry mouth is a condition that can have a negative impact on your oral health.  It also impacts your ability to eat food and speak, and has been said to cause bad breath.

Basically, if you have dry mouth you are missing out on many of the benefits that your spit provides to your mouth.

I’ll talk about all of the effects of dry mouth in a future article.  What I want to talk about right now is what causes dry mouth.  Dry mouth is caused by a variety of different factors.  I’ve listed six main causes of dry mouth, which you can find below.

Six Causes of Dry Mouth, Xerostomia

Dry Mouth Causes

1 – Medications – This is one of the most common causes of dry mouth.  There are literally hundreds of medications that cause dry mouth.  Some of the more common ones are anti-depressants, sedatives, beta-blockers, high blood pressure medication, antihistamines, and cold/flu medications.  Other drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, can directly dry out the mouth.

Learn more about 348 medications that cause dry mouth.

2 – Anxiety, Depression, or Stress – These conditions have been shown to cause dry mouth.  The best way to treat it is to find effective ways to manage your anxiety, depression, or stress.

3 – Diabetes – There is some debate whether diabetes causes dry mouth or not.  Here’s what the book Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology by Neville has to say about diabetes and dry mouth:

Xerostomia, a subjective feeling of dryness of the oral mucosa, has been reported as a complaint in one third of diabetic patients.  Unfortunately, studies that attempt to confirm an actual decrease in salivary flow rate in diabetic patients have produced conflicting results.  Some studies show a decrease in salivary flow; some, no difference from normal; and some, an increased salivary flow rate.

4 – Autoimmune Diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome, HIV, and Graft-versus-Host disease.  Sjögren’s syndrome causes dry mouth and dry eyes.  In other immunologic diseases, it is suspected that the body’s immune system is attacking the salivary glands, thus decreasing the amount of saliva that is produced.

5 – Radiation treatment to the head and/or neck area – Radiation treatment to the head and neck area can cause damage to the salivary glands.  Some of the glands can recover and produce saliva normally after radiation treatment.  The biggest salivary gland, however, usually has trouble recovering and can be permanently damaged, leading to chronic dry mouth.

6 – Hormone changes – Hormonal changes occur with pregnancy and menopause in females.  These hormonal changes have been associated with dry mouth.  If you are pregnant and experiencing dry mouth, your dry mouth should resolve once your baby is born.  If you have dry mouth associated with menopause, you may want to see your dentist to see what kind of treatment is available.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are numerous causes for dry mouth.  Do you have dry mouth?  Please leave any comments or questions in the comments section below.

Sources: Xerostomia: Etiology, Recognition, and Treatment | ADA: Do you Have Dry Mouth? | Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology by Neville

7 COMMENTS

  1. When I wake up I have really dry mouth, I think its because I breathe through my mouth when I sleep because of my sinus problems. Is this a main cause of xerostomia?

    • Hi DJ – I should have mentioned this in the article. When you sleep, your salivary glands almost completely shut off. This is why most people wake up with a dry mouth and bad breath.

      If you still have the dry mouth after you’ve woken up, then you should be concerned that you may have xerostomia. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Hi, I’m mark 23 years old. After a week of taking my diet pill I experienced dry mouth but the weird is, I only experience this at night. I smoke for 3 years also.

    Thanks!

  3. I had a dental implant. Shortly after the crown was placed I started having a discharge coming from the implant area. It has been going on for two years and seems to be getting worse. I have diabetes and am taking blood pressure medication. Several dentists and oral surgeons have told me I have dry mouth caused by my medications. My MD has adjusted my meds but the discharge continues.

    My problem does not seem to be dry mouth but wet mouth, as there is an actual excess flow of saliva or spit or something coming out of my mouth. I have been taking blood pressure meds for over 20 years and did not have a problem until the implant. I’m beginning to think that my problem is not dry mouth but something else caused by the implant. The oral surgeon removed the implant and I had a bridge installed but the problem persists. HELP

    Kent

  4. I take Zyrtec, singulair, and Flonase for my allergies prescribed by my ENT doctor to assist in managing my allergies. I am now experiencing dry mouth and tongue daily. I am asking what can I do to get rid of it or manage it or should I be worried and do I need to see my doctor immediately. Please advise. Thanks.

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