Dry Mouth – Causes & Solutions

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dry mouth is a most common malady.  Initially, it may seem like a minor irritation, however, for many people it can and frequently does have devastating results.  Saliva is truly a significant element necessary for good oral health.

The cause of dry mouth can stem from multiple sources.  The use of many drugs can result in xerostomia or dry mouth.  Many of the antidepressant drugs, pain relievers, muscle relaxants, diuretics, antihistamines, and blood pressure medications, for instance, may cause dry mouth.  Often, if your physician is informed of this condition, another drug may be substituted or the amount of the present drug may be reduced, or taken in smaller but more frequent doses to reach the same daily dose to alleviate your dry mouth.  Not always, however, will there be a suitable substitute drug for all diseases.  Certain drug combinations also may result in dry mouth.

Many diseases, likewise, cause dry mouth.  Sjogren’s Syndrome is a classic disease for dry mouth, but rheumatoid arthritis patients often also have dry mouth.  Some diseases, like diabetes, if not properly controlled may result in dry mouth and aging alone may produce dry mouth.

There are also drugs which stimulate saliva release.  The two most commonly used of these are Salagen (Pilocarpine HC1) and Evoxac (Cevimeline HC1).  These are taken 3 or 4 times daily to maintain oral moisture.  People who suffer from dry mouth may also use oral moisturizers.  The best and most readily available of these is water.  A nearby water bottle easily helps maintain moisture in the mouth.  There are saliva substitutes, which some people like.  These are, Salivart, Oralube, Xero-lube, and Plax.

Also available are chemical stimulants such as Mouth-kote or Optimoist or an adhesive patch called OraMoist.  As a dentist with Sjögren’s Syndrome, I personally like a product called Numoisyn, which is a saliva-supporting lozenge (basically a sugar-free lemon drop) which causes the mouth to salivate.

A few dry mouth Do’s and Don’ts for Xerostomia or hyposalivation:

  • DO sip water regularly
  • DO chew sugar-free gum (with xylitol)
  • DO breathe through your nose, not your mouth
  • DO add moisture to air at night (i.e. room humidifier)
  • DO limit your caffeine intake
  • DO limit your alcohol intake
  • DO use fluoride toothpaste or ask your dentist for fluoride treatments at home to prevent rampant decay resulting from dry mouth (serious negative effect)


  • DON’T use mouthwashes with alcohol
  • DON’T use OTC antihistamines and decongestants


If in doubt about what to do for your dry mouth, talk to your dentist or call Dr. James G. Hood, DDS, MA at (509) 928-9100 to learn more.  You can also visit his website at: www.drhood.com.  Dr. Hood’s office is conveniently located at:

 Dental Care Associates of Spokane Valley, P.S.

507 North Sullivan Road Suite A-1, Spokane Valley, WA 99037

Phone: (509) 928-9100  |  Fax: (509 928-0414

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