What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, medically known as xerostomia, is the condition of not having enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications. Inflammation or obstructions of the salivary glands are often associated with dry mouth, as these glands are responsible for the production of saliva in the mouth. Diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and diabetes, may also result in a dry mouth. Emotional disorders, such as a panic attack caused by severe anxiety, may cause dry mouth due to the stress or “flight or fight” response, which reduces saliva production in the mouth.

Dry mouth is commonly associated with periodontal disease, as saliva helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, which causes gum disease, oral infections, and tooth decay. Dry mouth, if not treated, can make chewing, eating, swallowing, and even talking difficult.

In some cases, dry mouth may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious condition that should be evaluated immediately in an emergency setting. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have dry mouth along with other serious symptoms, including difficulty breathing or swallowing.


What other symptoms might occur with dry mouth?

Dry mouth may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Mouth symptoms that may occur along with dry mouth

Dry mouth may accompany other symptoms affecting the mouth including:


What causes dry mouth?

Saliva, produced by the salivary glands in your mouth, plays an important role in your mouth by cleansing it and removing food debris. Dry mouth occurs when the salivary glands that make saliva don't work properly. Because many over-the-counter and prescription medicines have dry mouth as a side effect, they are a common cause of the condition. In addition, some diseases, such as Read more about dry mouthcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health