Dry mouth has numerous causes:

  • Medications. Hundreds of medications, including many over-the-counter drugs, produce dry mouth as a side effect. Among the more likely types to cause problems are some of the drugs used to treat depression, nerve pain (neuropathy) and anxiety, as well as some antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants and pain medications.
  • Aging. The aging process doesn't necessarily cause dry mouth. However, older people are more likely to take medications that may cause dry mouth, and they're more likely to have other health conditions that can cause dry mouth.
  • Cancer therapy. Chemotherapy drugs can change the nature of saliva and the amount produced. This may be temporary, with normal salivary flow returning after treatment has been completed. Radiation treatments to your head and neck can damage salivary glands, causing a marked decrease in saliva production. This can be temporary or permanent, depending on the radiation dose and area treated.
  • Nerve damage. An injury or surgery that causes nerve damage to your head and neck area can result in dry mouth.
  • Other health conditions. Dry mouth can be a consequence of certain health conditions, including the autoimmune disease Sjogren's syndrome or HIV/AIDS. Stroke and Alzheimer's disease may cause a perception of dry mouth, even though the salivary glands are functioning normally. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.
  • Tobacco use. Smoking or chewing tobacco can increase dry mouth symptoms.
  • Methamphetamine use. Methamphetamine use can cause severe dry mouth and damage to teeth, a condition also known as "meth mouth."
May. 10, 2014

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