Causes of a Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a condition in the medical community that is known as “xerostomia.” This condition is characterized by decreased salivation in the mouth which results in a dry tongue, cheeks and gums. While this condition is often a side effect or symptom of another condition, it can result as an independent condition in and of itself. If you experience dry mouth, it is important to visit your physician to determine the cause and treatment options for your own specific health condition.


When your body needs more water, it lets you know by making you feel thirsty. This natural mechanism in the body quits working properly as we age. Therefore the older we get, the more likely we are to suffer from dehydration, which is a very common cause of dry mouth.


According to, there are more than 1,800 medications that can cause dry mouth. Medications such as antihistamines, narcotics and acid reducers often cause this side effect. If you start a new medication, consult your doctor or pharmacist to see if this is a possible side effect of the new drug. If your dry mouth is a medication side effect, your physician will instruct you on what he wants you to do, and may possibly switch your medication depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Tobacco Usage

Dry mouth is a common complication of tobacco use. Cigarettes, cigars, snuff and dip can all cause this adverse symptom. Depending on your overall health and current medication regimes, your doctor may be able to prescribe medications that will assist you in tobacco cessation. If your dry mouth is found to be a side effect of tobacco use and you are unwilling to quit, sucking on hard candy may alleviate this symptom.


Several diseases and general medical conditions can cause dry mouth. Sjogren’s syndrome is a condition that often causes dry mouth in addition to dehydration and dry skin. Dehydration is a medical condition that in itself will cause dry mouth and in severe cases can cause the tongue to dry out to the point of cracking. Other diseases which can cause dry mouth include AIDS, scleroderma, diabetes, anxiety disorders and Parkinson’s disease. A visit to your physician is important to rule out any medical conditions which may be causing your dry mouth symptoms.

Sleeping Habits

Dry mouth is often experienced in the morning after waking up. If you sleep with your mouth open or snore at night, the saliva in the mouth can easily evaporate, causing the inside of the mouth to become dehydrated. It’s important to visit a physician if you snore or sleep with your mouth open, as these can be symptoms of sleep apnea, which if left untreated can result in more serious conditions such as heart damage.

About this Author

Iva Gutowski is a practicing nurse with health care experience since 2001. She has worked in the hospital setting on medical/surgical floors and critical care units. She has been a writer since 1999. Her experience includes articles for “The Asheville Citizen-Times,” “The McDowell News,” and “The Old Fort News.” Gutowski holds a License Practical Nursing degree from McDowell Technical Community College