How to Treat Dry Mouth at Home

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Dry mouth is a common condition among older adults. It can make eating and speaking quite uncomfortable and can eventually cause bad breath and tooth decay. If you are experiencing dry mouth, there are several ways to treat dry mouth at home.

What is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is exactly what it sounds like. Also called xerostomia, dry mouth is a condition where the mouth does not make enough saliva. This makes the mouth dry and uncomfortable.

Saliva is important to the mouth because it is needed to cleanse and moisten the mouth as well as help to digest food. Aside from being uncomfortable, dry mouth increases the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and thrush. It can also make speaking, chewing, and swallowing difficult.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth

  • Sticky, dry feeling in mouth
  • Sores in mouth
  • Chapped, cracked lips
  • Dry throat
  • Frequent thirst
  • Dry, painful tongue
  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath

Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications. Both prescription and over the counter drugs that treat allergies, anxiety, depression, acne, hypertension, asthma, colds, and more, have dry mouth as a possible side effect.

Some diseases, such as diabetes, stroke, mumps, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, are known to include dry mouth as a symptom.

Medical treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy for cancer can cause dry mouth. Particularly if the head and neck are the areas being treated.

Smoking and chewing tobacco are both culprits of dry mouth. They inhibit saliva flow, resulting in a dehydrated mouth and can lead to other dental disorders.

Is Dry Mouth Common?

Dry mouth is common among older people. It is thought that as much as 1 out of 5 older adults suffer from this condition. The reason is because older people are more likely to take medications that have dry mouth as a side effect.

How to Treat Dry Mouth at Home

Dry mouth treatment is usually done by lifestyle changes, medication management, and increasing the flow of saliva. Here are some ways to can treat dry mouth at home.

  1. Drink more water. Dry mouth is often caused by simply dehydration, so drinking more water, more frequently throughout the day can help to alleviate symptoms.
  2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. These drinks are both dehydrating, so if you are experiencing dry mouth, try to limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.
  3. Try sugar-free candy or gum. Sugar-free candies such as cough drops or lozenges can help to moisten the mouth. Sugar-free gum often contains xylitol, a natural sweetener that stimulates salive production.
  4. Use a humidifier. Humidifiers add moisture to the air. They can be used to prevent dryness, relieve congestion, and treat dry mouth.
  5. Some people have had success with herbal remedies for dry mouth. Ginger, aloe vera, and marshmallow root can be used to treat dry mouth at home.
  6. Quit smoking. Smoking is a major cause of dry mouth, so quitting smoking is a simple way of treating dry mouth.

Other Ways to Treat Dry Mouth

If you think your dry mouth is being caused by medications you are taking, you could talk to your doctor about adjusting, or replacing your medicine. Common medications that are known to cause dry mouth are hormone medications, antihistamines, and blood pressure medications.

There are also prescription medications, as well as toothpastes, mouthwashes, and moisturizing gels that help with dry mouth. Pilocarpine, or Salagen®, is a medication that stimulates your nerves to increase your saliva production.


Dry mouth is a common condition that causes discomfort, bad breath, and tooth decay. It is usually caused by medication, certain diseases, and smoking. Dry mouth can be treated at home by making lifestyle changes, managing medication, and increasing the flow of saliva.