The Many Causes of Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Also known as dry mouth, cotton mouth, dough mouth, and drought mouth, xerostomia is one of the most common complications of a variety of health conditions and a variety of medical treatments. Here are the essential facts about xerostomia at a glance.

What is Xerostomia?

The simplest xerostomia definition is a feeling of having a dry mouth. Just how “dry” the mouth has to be to qualify as xerostomia may differ from person to person.

What Are the Symptoms of Xerostomia?

The universal symptom of xerostomia is a dry mouth caused by the absence of saliva. The dryness of the mouth can cause numerous secondary symptoms, including:xerostomia-symptoms

  • Bad breath,
  • Gum disease,
  • Tooth decay,
  • Dramatic increase in the number of cavities due the lack remineralization by saliva, and
  • Difficulty eating and talking.

When xerostomia is caused by methamphetamine abuse (“meth mouth“), additional symptoms of the condition caused by the drug itself include:

  • Nighttime tooth grinding, also known as bruxism,
  • Clenched jaws, and
  • Chewing motions even when there is no food in the mouth.

Xerostomia Causes

Most people develop xerostomia after starting a medication. Six kinds of medications often cause dry mouth:

  • Antidepressants,
  • Antihistamines,
  • Antipsychotic drugs,
  • Chemotherapy,
  • Medications for high blood pressure,
  • Medications to stop excessive urination.

However, long-term smoking, frequent smoking of marijuana, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition known as Sj√∂gren’s disease, and chronic anxiety all can cause dry mouth, as can physical injury to or cancer of the salivary glands. Dry mouth usually is not caused just by aging. Older people do not necessarily experience lower production of saliva.

If you recognize the symptoms of xerostomia, you can avail yourself of timely xerostomia treatment.