Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Oral Care

Font Size

Dry Mouth: Home Treatment and Prevention - Topic Overview

Dry mouth (xerostomia) may make it hard for you to eat, talk, swallow, wear dentures, or taste food. In most cases, home treatment will relieve symptoms of a dry mouth. An ongoing dry mouth can lead to mouth infections, gum disease, and dental cavities.

Some causes of dry mouth include dehydration, breathing through your mouth, stress or anxiety, smoking, and problems with how the salivary glands work, so you make less saliva. Low saliva production is common as you age. It also is common with many health conditions, such as Sjögren's syndrome, or with treatments, such as cancer treatments.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Dealing with TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular disorders are a group of problems that cause pain and poor function in the jaw joint and the muscles responsible for jaw movement. They're also called TMD, or TMJ (short for temporomandibular joint) disorders. TMD can be just a nuisance -- or it can be a life-altering problem. When it's less severe, crunching down on a hard bit of food can shoot a bolt of pain through the jaw joint -- unpleasant, to be sure, but not serious. With time and simple home care, the pain usually...

Read the Dealing with TMJ Disorders article > >

A dry mouth can also be caused by a medicine, such as a diuretic, an antihistamine, or a decongestant. If you suspect that a medicine is the cause of your dry mouth, call the doctor who prescribed the medicine to determine whether you should stop taking it or take a different one. An appointment may not be necessary. If you are taking a nonprescription medicine, stop taking it. Call your doctor if you feel that you need to continue the medicine.

Home treatment

Home treatment may help relieve symptoms of a dry mouth.

  • Take frequent sips of liquid throughout the day. Water is best.
  • Use ice chips and sugar-free items such as gum, hard candy and lollipops, frozen fruit juices, and soft drinks. They will help keep your mouth moist without promoting tooth decay.
  • Eat and drink tart foods and liquids, such as lemonade, sugar-free sour candies, and dill pickles, to help stimulate the flow of saliva.
  • Add extra liquid to foods to make them easier to chew and swallow. Drink water with meals.
  • Use nonprescription saliva substitutes that you can buy at a pharmacy.

Prevention

A dry mouth is common and can often be prevented. Try some of the following prevention measures:

  • Drink 2 qt (2 L) of water a day. This is the same as eight 8 fl oz (250 mL) glasses of water.
  • Use a humidifier in your home, especially in the bedroom.
  • Breathe through your nose rather than through your mouth.
  • Do not take medicines that cause a dry mouth. These include diuretics, antihistamines, and decongestants. Your doctor can help you find a different medicine.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages, tobacco, and alcohol, all of which increase dryness in your mouth.
1

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: July 20, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Dry Mouth: Home Treatment and Prevention Topics

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

Get the latest Oral Health newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

close up of woman sticking out tongue
Sores, discoloration, bumps and more.
toothbrushes
10 secrets to a brighter smile.
 
Veneer smile
Before and after.
Woman checking her bite in mirror
Why dental care is important.
 

Woman dissatisfied with granola bar
Slideshow
woman with jaw pain
Quiz
 
eroded front teeth
Slideshow
brushing teeth
Video
 

Variety shades of tea
Slideshow
mouth and dental instruments
Article
 
Closeup of a happy young guy brushing his teeth
Tool
womans smile
Video