Dry Mouth -- Causes and Cures
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Last updated June 15, 2017, originally published October 19, 2009

By Susan M. Callahan,  Associate Editor and Featured Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of
our Editorial Board]

Dry mouth, technically called "xerostomia", is one of the
most common annoyances people experience.  According to
the National Institute of Dental Research, approximately 25
million Americans suffer from chronic dry mouth and up to
50% of us will suffer from dry mouth at some point in our

Dry mouth affects people of all ages, young and older, all
over the world. A 1998 study from the University of
Maryland estimated that 17% of adults in the US have
either experienced dry mouth during the day or have
awakened at night feeling dryness in the mouth.  A 2008
study from the University of Otego in New  Zealand found
that 10% of all 32 year-olds suffer from dry mouth. At the
other end of the spectrum, a 2013 study from Jodhpur
National University in India found that 27% of all
menopausal women there suffer from dry mouth.

What causes dry mouth? What causes dry mouth at night?
Are there any simple remedies for dry mouth or foods that
reduce dry mouth?   

Here are some of the most common causes and treatments
of dry mouth.

Too Much Caffeine

Drinking beverages with too much caffeine during the day
is a common cause of dry mouth. Coffee, certain teas, and
sodas are the usual culprits. Caffeine causes the body to
dehydrate at about the rate of one glass for every glass of
caffeinated liquid consumed. So, if you find that you are
drinking extra caffeinated soda, you will have to increase
the amount of water you drink to avoid dry mouth at night.

Excessive Snoring

Snoring can contribute to dry mouth in a significant
number of cases.

Unfortunately, if snoring is the cause of your dry mouth,
you will need to diagnose the cause of your snoring to
figure out how to reduce the dry mouth.  Common
remedies for snoring include sleeping on your side and
using a humidifier at night.

Night Time Congestion

Night time congestion causes dry mouth by increasing the
risk of mouth-breathing. The more you breathe through
your mouth, the drier it becomes.  Eliminate common
sources of allergens from your pillows and hair to reduce
night time congestion.


In 2012, researchers from Stanford University School of
Medicine examined the health records of a group of 383
elderly Japanese (those over 85 years of age) and
identified that mouth breathing was a significant cause of
dry mouth. Other factors that increase the incidence of dry
mouth included brushing of the teeth more than twice a
day and, surprisingly, drinking too much water on a daily

Medications That Cause Dry Mouth

According to a 2000 study Department of Oral Health,
University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand ( and a 2012
study from Mahidok University in Thailand) , there is a
strong correlation between certain types of medications
and the incidence of dry mouth. In fact, other studies have
found that 63% of the most commonly prescribed
medications cause dry mouth, and the risk that you will
develop dry mouth increases as the number of medications
you take increases.

The medications most likely to cause dry mouth,
irrespective of age and gender, are

1. Antidepressants
2. Hypolipidemics
3. Iron Supplements
4. Analgesics
5. Blood pressure medications (anti-hypertensives)
6. many bronchodilators used to treat asthma

In fact, a follow-up study by the same university found that
men and women who take these medications are
22 times
more likely to suffer dry mouth.

The problem of taking multiple medications, so common
among the elderly, can only be alleviated by reducing the
numbers of medications you take. Unfortunately, taking
multiple medications often introduces new medical
problems which our society then address by --- you
guessed it --- prescribing even more meds.  Be diligent in
identifying with your doctor when natural remedies mat
replace one of more of your medications.

Conditions That Cause Dry Mouth

A 2003 study from the University of Pittsburgh School of
Dentistry, dry mouth often occurs in connection with  
radiation therapy and
Sjögren's syndrome, a condition in
which can also include dry eyes and rheumatoid arthritis or
another related connective tissue disease.

According to the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, as many
as 4 million Americans suffer from this condition which can
cause dry mouth and
dry eyes.

In a study in the January 27, 2012 edition of in the
European Journal of Cancer, a research team from Fudan
University Shanghai Cancer Center has found that
acupuncture can relieve the dry mouth in cancer patients
caused by radiation treatments.

Burning mouth syndrome is another condition whose
sufferers often complain of dry mouth in addition to
burning sensation in the mouth, tongue and lips. (Read
more about
natural remedies for burning mouth syndrome.)

Blocked Salivary Glands Can Cause Dry Mouth

Your salivary glands allow your body to lubricate your
mouth with saliva. If they are blocked , your mouth will feel
dry.  Eating foods high in omega-3 fatty acids such as
salmon and sardines or walnuts can help to dislodge the
tiny crystals that are blocking your glands. (Read more
natural remedies for blocked salivary glands.)

Foods That Reduce Dry Mouth

Vegetables and fruit with high water content such as
bananas and watermelons seem to improve chronic dry

Vegetables should be steamed rather than fried or grilled to
maintain high water content, if you have dry mouth.  

Water itself, of course, and non-caffeinated teas and
beverages such as chamomile tea, also can help.

Be careful of bottled waters. Some bottled waters contain
sodium, which reduces your body's water content and
makes dry mouth worse.


Burning Mouth Syndrome-Causes and Cures

Dry Eyes -10 Natural Remedies

Stop Night Time Congestion

The Importance of Drinking Enough Water

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Eating walnuts can help with
dry mouth caused by blocked
salivary glands.