What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is a very common condition that affects one in five adults.8

Man with dry mouth reading and drinking a glass of water

The reduction in saliva flow that characterizes dry mouth can be the result of various underlying causes.

  • Medicines

  • The more medicines you take, the more likely you are to suffer from dry mouth.1 Learn more about medications and dry mouth.

  • Age

  • A slightly decreased saliva flow is a natural result of aging.9 Also, as people get older, they tend to take more medicines—the main cause of dry mouth2,10–12—and they are more likely to suffer from diseases like cancer and Sjögren’s syndrome, which can contribute to dry mouth.9

  • Cancer and its treatment

  • A common therapy for head and neck cancers is radiation. Radiation affects the salivary glands causing an almost total reduction in saliva flow. Many patients never regain their full flow.2,15

    Chemotherapy can also decrease salivary flow, but most patients will regain their prechemotherapy salivary function once they have completed their therapy.2

  • Sjögren’s syndrome

  • This is a medical condition where the body’s immune system malfunctions and attacks the tear and salivary glands.2

  • Diabetes

  • Diabetes can cause increased urination or an underlying metabolic or hormonal problem that results in dry mouth.13,14

  • Caffeine, smoking, alcohol

  • If you already suffer from dry mouth, avoid these substances to reduce their drying effects. That includes mouthwashes that contain alcohol.5

  • Mouth breathing

  • Mouth breathing can increase saliva evaporation.5

  • Dry climate

  • Use a humidifier to increase the humidity, especially in the bedroom if you are a mouth breather and during winter months.5

No matter what has caused your dry mouth, it can and should be managed.

Learn why.

Boxes and bottles of Biotène® toothpaste, gel, mouthwash and spray.

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