8 Myths About Dry Mouth

  • couple-embracing-and-laughing-on-beach
    How to Cope with Dry Mouth
    What could be more frustrating than trying to speak but finding your tongue glued to the roof of your parched mouth? Dry mouth, or xerostomia, often causes a number of other unpleasant symptoms too, such as bad breath, difficulty eating and swallowing, and tooth decay. How much do you know about this condition that turns your mouth into a desert?

  • hand-holding-cup-of-coffee
    Myth No. 1: It doesn’t have anything to do with what you eat or drink.
    Your diet may not cause dry mouth, but it certainly can make it seem worse. If you have xerostomia, you might want to pass on the spicy or salty foods that can irritate your mouth. Alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine are all oral irritants.

  • senior-couple-walking-by-water
    Myth No. 2: It’s just another part of getting older.
    Nope. Dry mouth is not a normal part of the aging process. It could be caused by a side effect from a medication you’re taking, or from treatment like chemotherapy or radiation. It could also be a sign of nerve damage. So if you’ve written off dry mouth as another symptom of aging, consult your doctor to rule out other factors that could be causing it.

  • stressed-man-with-hands-on-face
    Myth No. 3: Once you have it, you’ll always have it.
    It depends on what’s causing your dry mouth. Stress can cause a temporary case of dry mouth, and so can a round of certain medications. When you stop taking the medication, your dry mouth will probably go away. However, sometimes your salivary glands might become damaged by certain treatments for cancer or by injury. That can cause a permanent case of dry mouth.

  • closeup-of-toothpaste-and-toothbrush
    Myth No. 4: It’s annoying, but it doesn’t really have any effect on your health.
    Your teeth and gums are at risk! You are more likely to develop tooth decay if you suffer from dry mouth. The lack of saliva in your mouth can also exacerbate gum disease. The reason: you don’t have enough saliva to wash away the bacteria that hammer away at your gums and teeth. If you have dry mouth, you need to take extra-special care to brush and floss your teeth regularly—and let your dentist know if you develop any infections or experience any pain or inflammation.

  • dentures-soaking-in-water-glass
    Myth No. 5: You wear dentures, so your dry mouth shouldn’t be an issue.
    Dry mouth can make it more uncomfortable for you to wear dentures, though. You might notice that your dentures tend to rub against your gums, causing sores to develop.

  • smiling-woman-holding-glass-of-water-and-pill
    Myth No. 6: There’s nothing you can take to help the problem.
    Artificial saliva could be the product for you, if other contributing causes have been ruled out. These saliva substitutes lubricate your mouth; you can take your pick among rinses, gels, sprays and tablets. But their abilities are limited—they can’t actually stimulate the production of saliva. However, if you’ve developed dry mouth as a result of radiation treatment for certain head and neck cancers or for Sjögren's syndrome, the FDA has approved some medications that are aimed at treating your condition.

  • chewing-gum-in-wrapper
    Myth No. 7: Chewing gum makes it worse.
    Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candies can actually provide some much-wanted relief. The key here is “sugarless.” But be forewarned. Many of those also contain a substance called xylitol, which can cause stomach cramps or diarrhea, so you don’t want to overdo it.

  • hand-pouring-mouth-wash-into-cup
    Myth No. 8: A little mouthwash will knock out the bad breath.
    True, mouthwash can temporarily improve the way your breath smells by killing some of the odor-causing bacteria. But it’s not going to fix the problem. In fact, it’s probably going to make it a lot worse, because the alcohol in most mouthwashes tends to dry the mouth out. However, there are some mouthwashes on the market that are designed for people with dry mouth, so you might give one of those a try.

8 Myths About Dry Mouth

About The Author

Jennifer Larson has more than 15 years of professional writing experience with a specialization in healthcare. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and memberships in the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Education Writers Association.
  1. Dry Mouth? Don't Delay Treatment. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm254273.htm
  2. Dry Mouth. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/basics/definition/con-20035499
  3. Dry Mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/Topics/DryMouth/DryMouth.htm#
  4. Older Adults and Oral Health. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/oralhealth/OralHealthInformation/OlderAdults/
  5. Plemons JM, et al. Managing xerostomia and salivary gland hypofunction. American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs. Journal of the American Dental Association. 2014; Volume 145, Issue 8, 867–873. http://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(14)60200-2/pdf
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Last Review Date: 2018 Mar 13
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