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What Causes Dry Mouth?


Updated: July 25, 2008

Question: What Causes Dry Mouth?

While anyone get dry mouth, also called xerostomia, it is a common problem among older adults. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that 20% of elderly people suffer from dry mouth and this condition is also a hidden cause of tooth loss and gum disease in 30 percent of adults.

Dry mouth, which is the reduced flow of saliva, could be a symptom of a particular medical condition or a side effect of certain medications. Sufficient saliva is needed in the mouth to wash away food debris and reduce plaque by neutralizing the acids that plaque produces.

Common medications taken that may cause dry mouth are:

  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Pain pills
  • Decongestants
  • Incontinence medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Parkinson’s disease medications

If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure to discuss treatment methods, such as saliva substitutes, with your dentist. Sugar-free gum and candy also can increase saliva flow.


Oral Cancer Foundation 12 August 2007.

What is Dry Mouth?

Dry Mouth and Seniors

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