Xerostomia: What Conditions Lead To Dry Mouth?

What Is Xerostomia?

dry mouth

Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth. Dry mouth is the feeling that your mouth has very little or no saliva in it, making it feel itchy and irritated. Dry mouth is very common and is often the result of an underlying condition or certain lifestyle factors. Dry mouth is not considered life-threatening, but if left untreated it can lead to dental conditions like gingivitis and tooth decay.


  • Stress
  • Sjogrens Syndrome
  • Celiac Disease
  • Certain medications
    • Anti-depressants
    • Decongestants
    • Anti-histamines
    • Acne medications
    • Bronchodilators
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Nerve damage
  • Diabetes
  • Dehydration
  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Frequent mouth-breathing


There is only one type of xerostomia or dry mouth.



  • An itchy dry feeling in the mouth
  • Excessive thirst
  • An itchy, dry feeling in the throat
  • A red, irritated tongue
  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat
  • Impaired taste
  • Trouble talking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness


Xerostomia can be diagnosed by your primary care physician or dentist. Your doctor will perform an examination of your mouth and look at your medical history and reported symptoms. They may want to perform a sialometery test, which is a diagnostic test that measures the amount of saliva you produce.


Treating dry mouth depends on the underlying cause. Once the underlying cause is treated, the xerostomia usually resolves. There are certain medications that can increase the production of saliva and resolve the symptoms of dry mouth. There are also simple remedies that can alleviate the symptoms of dry mouth, such as sucking on hard candy or drinking more water. Changing lifestyle factors such as quitting smoking or quitting alcohol consumption can also resolve dry mouth.

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