Dry Mouth Causes


Recognizing the Underlying Causes of Dry Mouth in your Patients

Although medication is the most common cause of dry mouth1, other causes can lead to reduced saliva flow.

The Causes of Dry Mouth

Medication and Disease: The 2 main culprits of Dry Mouth2

  • Medication is the number one cause1,3,4 of Dry Mouth as it is a side effect of many common medicines5 including antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, and sedatives.5
  • Taking multiple medications may increase the risk of Dry Mouth by at least 40%6,7
  • The medical conditions and comorbidities leading to xerostomia are diverse. They include Parkinson’s disease, anxiety and depression, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, head and neck radiation and chemotherapy cancer treatments1,8

Patients with chronic diseases such as Sjögren’s syndrome and diabetes may not realize they have problems because the change in salivary production occurs gradually over time, resulting in slow-to-emerge symptoms.5

Failing to address may increase risk/likelihood of bad breath, mouth infections and cavities. Many of these oral health problems can be addressed by effectively managing Dry Mouth symptoms.1

Salivary Gland Hypofunction

Dry Mouth is associated with changes in saliva composition and may have no immediately identifiable cause.1,10 Salivary gland hypofunction – the objective measurement of reduced salivary flow – can be associated with:1,5,11

  • Medical treatments and polypharmacy
  • Lifestyle choices
  • Health conditions
  • Damage to the salivary glands
Salivary gland diagram

Salivary Gland Physiology

Three main salivary glands; paratoid, submandibular and sublingual produce 90% of saliva.1 These glands produce the two major types of secretion that form saliva:1

  1. Serous fluid (mainly from the parotid and submandibular glands)
  2. Mucous (mainly from the submandibular and sublingual glands)

The Different Causes of Dry Mouth

  • Salivary Flow

    Salivary flow rate infographic and salivary flow decrease infographic

    Abnormal Salivary Flow Can Lead to Dry Mouth1,10

    Total salivary output should be approximately 1 litre per day, with salivary flow rates fluctuating naturally over this time.5 Patients may only realize that they have Dry Mouth when their natural salivary flow has decreased by almost half.5

  • Pharmacological Factors

    Polypharmacy and dry mouth risk infographic

    Medication Use is the Number One Cause of Dry Mouth1,3,4

    Over 500 commonly used medications can have side effects that cause Dry Mouth,including many over-the-counter and commonly prescribed medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics and cytotoxic drugs.5,8,13 Furthermore, the risk of Dry Mouth increases in correlation with the number and types of medications.6,8

  • Other Factors

    Other Causes of Dry Mouth

    In addition to medication use, there are various other physiological, behavioural, psychological and medical causes of Dry Mouth.

    Lifestyle Factors
    • Mouth breathing1,4
    • Nasal obstruction1
    • Smoking4
    • Alcohol/drug abuse4
    • Caffeine4

    Medical Treatments
    • Damage from radiation therapy for head and neck cancers2,5
    • Chemotherapy14,15
    • Physical trauma to the salivary glands2
    • Surgical removal of salivary glands1
    Community Acquired Infections
    • HIV-1 infection1
    • Hepatitis C1
    Psychiatric Disorders
    • Anxiety2
    • Depression2
    Genetic Disorders
    • Cystic fibrosis16
    Autoimmune Diseases
    • Sjögren's syndrome8
    • Rheumatoid arthritis8

Offer Your Dry Mouth Patients a Solution That Suits Their Different Needs, Around the Clock*

*with a daily Dry Mouth routine

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