How to Manage Dry Mouth

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If you suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia), you are at an increased risk of developing cavities; less saliva leads to a higher risk of oral infection, altered sense of taste, difficulty swallowing, and a decreased quality of life. Women and the elderly report a higher prevalence of dry mouth overall. There are various causes for dry mouth, a few of which include: multiple sclerosis, alcoholic liver disease, radiation therapy, Sjogren’s disease, and Parkinson’s.

Xerostomia is a common side effect with many medications as well; be wary of the potential for dry mouth with the following:

  • Anticholinergics
  • Antidepressants/SSRIs (e.g. Prozac (Fluoxetine), Zoloft (Sertraline))
  • Antihistamines/allergy medications (e.g. diphenhydramine)
  • Medications treating high blood pressure (e.g. diuretics, beta-adrenergic blockers, ACE inhibitors)
  • Pain medicine (e.g. opioids)


Patients who have a high risk of cavities, especially from medications such as antidepressants, should consult with their dentist to be placed on prescription toothpaste.

Managing dry mouth is critical; not only will it improve your oral health, but also your quality of life. The following are some treatment options to deal with dry mouth:

  • Use an over-the-counter saliva substitute such as therabreath (the spilanthes ingredient stimulates saliva flow), biotene, xerostom, and oramoist
  • Chew sugar-free gum
  • Suck on sugar-free candy
  • Drink plenty of water to maintain a moist mouth
  • Use a humidifier in your room
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and rinses
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • Breathe through your nose as much as possible instead of your mouth
  • Use prescription medications such as Pilocarpine (Salagen) or Cevimeline (Evoxac)
  • Avoid mouthwashes or mouth rinses containing alcohol or peroxide
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, or acidic beverages
  • Avoid dry, salty, and high sugar foods such as: dried fruit, crackers, toast, bananas, and cookies

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