Dry mouth symptoms and remedies

Saliva, or spit, keeps your mouth healthy in many ways. If you have dry mouth and are looking for a solution, this information could help.

Overview

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, happens when the salivary glands in your mouth don’t make enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. With less salvia, your mouth can have a harder time breaking down food, fighting tooth decay and preventing gum disease.1

Causes

There are many different causes of dry mouth:2

  • Medication use
  • Diabetes
  • Aging
  • Tobacco use
  • Radiation therapy
  • Nerve damage
  • Anxiety

Symptoms

The lack of saliva in your mouth can cause any of these dry mouth symptoms:3

  • Sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing or speaking
  • Changed sense of taste
  • Dry, rough tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Problems wearing dentures

Treatment options

Minor cases of dry mouth can be treated at home. However, more severe cases could require a trip to your doctor or dentist for medical treatment.

Home treatments for dry mouth4

  • Drink more water—Staying hydrated can help relieve dry mouth.
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine—Caffeine can dry out your mouth, so try to avoid drinks like coffee, tea and soda.
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash—Mouthwash can improve your overall oral hygiene, and mouthwashes that contain xylitol also help promote saliva production.
  • Don’t use alcohol or tobacco—In addition to being bad for your overall health, alcohol and tobacco can contribute to dry mouth.

Medical treatments for dry mouth5

  • Use an artificial saliva substitute—There are several sprays, gels and lozenges available that can temporarily moisten and lubricate the mouth.
  • Change medication—If a medication is causing your dry mouth, your doctor or dentist may prescribe a different medication.
  • Take pilocarpine—If radiotherapy is causing your dry mouth, the drug pilocarpine can stimulate certain nerves in your mouth to increase the production of saliva.

Humana can help with dry mouth treatment

If you need professional treatment for dry mouth, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.

Sources

  1. “Dry Mouth: Symptoms & causes,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 23, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/symptoms-causes/syc-20356048, opens new window.
  2. “Dry Mouth: Symptoms & causes.”
  3. “Dry Mouth: Symptoms & causes.”
  4. “Dry Mouth: Diagnosis & treatment,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed September 23, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20356052, opens new window.
  5. “Dry Mouth: Diagnosis & treatment.”