What is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a common concern that affects roughly 1 in 4 adults. Dryness occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough saliva. It is most common in those who take multiple medications, but can also be caused by various diseases and medical treatments.

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

  • Medications

    Up to 600 medications are known to cause dryness of the mouth & throat

    For example drugs used to treat depression, high blood pressure and anxiety, some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications

  • Cancer Therapies

    Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced while some radiation treatments can damage salivary glands

  • Tobacco and Alcohol

    Drinking alcohol, smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms, not only immediately after use but also throughout the day

  • Nerve Damage

    An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to the head and neck area can result in dry mouth

  • Age

    Saliva production can reduce as you grow older

  • Dehydration

    80% of Australians are dehydrated every single day and may not be aware of it

  • Sleep Apnea and Snoring

    Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth

  • Health Conditions

    Dry mouth can be caused by health conditions such as diabetes, stroke, yeast infection (thrush) in your mouth or Alzheimer’s disease

    Similarly autoimmune diseases, including Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS are also known to cause dry mouth

  • Dysphagia

    Difficulty speaking, chewing, and swallowing where there is not enough saliva to keep the mouth moist

Common Signs of Dry Mouth

Many people may be suffering from xerostomia and are completely unaware of the issue, the causes or even the signs. However leaving your mouth absent of sufficient saliva can cause additional side effects and can be detrimental to your health. Common signs include:

  • Rough, dry tongue

  • Tongue tending to stick against the roof of the mouth

  • Problems with chewing or swallowing

  • Bad breath

  • Mouth ulcers

  • Dry and cracked lips

  • Susceptibility to oral thrush infections

  • High rate of tooth decay

  • Prickly, burning sensation in the mouth

  • Loose acrylic dentures

Think you might have Dry Mouth?
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Let’s Talk About Saliva!

Typically, your mouth produces about 1 litre of saliva a day and consists of 99% water. Dryness can occur when the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva. This can be a problem because saliva has many important functions. Not only does it keep your mouth moist and comfortable, but it also plays a vital role in your overall oral health:

  • Decreases tooth decay due to its anti-fungal properties

  • Helps to destroy viruses and prevent infections

  • Neutralises the acids produced by plaque

  • Moistens food, which enables comfortable swallowing

  • Heightens the sensations inside the mouth, including pain, food texture and taste


Dry Mouth affects up to 40% of older people.

90% of people with dysphagia will be affected by dry mouth.

Osmist Creator Martha Rowe's Free eBook

Written by Martha Rowe
Creator of Osmist


Written by Martha Rowe – Creator of Osmist

Osmist Creator Martha Rowe's Free eBook

Dry Mouth affects up to 40% of older people.

90% of people with dysphagia notice dryness in the mouth & throat.