wikiHow to Prevent Dry Mouth

Three Methods:Changing your DietChanging your Daily RegimenGetting a Diagnosis

Also known as “cotton mouth,” dry mouth is a condition in which a person does not have enough saliva in his mouth due to obstruction, dehydration, infection, or medication. Depending on the severity of dry mouth, it may be difficult to swallow, talk, eat, or taste food. Dry mouth can be a temporary annoyance or a chronic condition with serious health risks.[1] Individuals suffering from dry mouth are at risk for dental decay, mouth infections, or gum disease. Simple home remedies, especially when used in combination, can help increase the production of saliva. Visit your doctor if home remedies do not work, or if you suffer other symptoms in combination with dry mouth, such as dry eyes, memory loss, or snoring.

Method 1
Changing your Diet

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    Drink plenty of water. Drink water and other sugar-free beverages throughout the day. Drink water with your meals to ease chewing and swallowing. Add water or other fluid-based mixtures (such as creams, dressings, soups, sauces, etc.) to foods to ease swallowing.
    • Bring a water bottle or thermos with you as you move through your day.
    • Drink room-temperature fluids when you can. Avoid drinking beverages that are extremely cold or hot.[2]
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    Stimulate saliva. Chew sugarless gum to stimulate the production of saliva. Avoid gum with sugar, as this can lead to tooth decay. It can also help to suck on sugar-free hard candies. Cinnamon and mint flavored candies may help encourage your saliva.[3]
    • If your dry mouth is temporary, you can eat tart foods such as lemons, limes, and sour candies — these are not proven remedies, but some claim they help with dry mouth. If you have chronic dry mouth, however, you should avoid acidic foods, as they will increase the likelihood of cavities.[4]
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    Avoid foods and beverages that trigger dry mouth. Get serious about preventing dry mouth. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can aggravate dry mouth symptoms. Avoid salty foods, which can increase dryness. To protect yourself from the negative health consequences of dry mouth, avoid sugary, spicy, salty, and acidic foods.
    • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks, etc.), as caffeine can dry out your mouth.[5]
    • Avoid sugary and acidic food to prevent tooth decay.
    • Avoid spicy and salty foods to prevent irritating your mouth.
    • Processed foods tend to contain deceptively high levels of sodium, which can dry out your mouth. Avoid canned food, fried food, and any frozen or instant meals.

Method 2
Changing your Daily Regimen

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    Buy the right toothpaste. Dry mouth decreases the amount of saliva in your mouth, which can lead to tooth decay. Buy toothpaste containing fluoride to help protect your teeth. Avoid toothpaste that contains sodium lauryl sulfate. This product will dehydrate your mouth.[6]
    • Look for toothpaste without sodium laurel sulfate in the natural foods aisle of your local store.
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    Get the right kind of mouthwash. Avoid any mouthwash or rinse containing alcohol or peroxide, as these products will dry out your mouth. Instead, look for mouthwashes that contain xylitol or fluoride. Fluoride will strengthen your teeth, while xylitol is a sweetener that may help minimize dry mouth.[7]
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    Breathe through your nose as much as possible. Instead of breathing through your mouth, make a conscious effort to breathe through your nose. If you have a dry, stuffy nose, you may have trouble breathing comfortably through your nose. Moisturize your nasal passages by using a nasal saline spray, which will help with a dry, stuffy nose. [8]
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    Treat snoring. A common cause of dry mouth is snoring. Try using nasal strips or external nasal dilators. Sleep on your side, and elevate your head with an extra pillow or a tilted mattress. Limit your use of alcohol and sedatives.[9]
    • Losing weight can help you stop snoring if you are overweight.
    • Try to monitor your sleep patterns and seek medical treatment. Snoring can be caused by a deviated nasal septum, sleep apnea, or long-term congestion. Your doctor may be able to help you treat these issues.
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    Use a humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air, and is particularly useful in dry regions or during the winter months when home heating makes the air inside your home dry. Run the humidifier in the bedroom while you sleep. Do not use more than the manufacturer recommends. Decrease humidifier use if you notice condensation or mold on your walls.[10]
    • Avoid sitting in front of a heater, fan, or air conditioner, as these can dehydrate you.
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    Give up drugs and cigarettes. Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause dry mouth.[11] If you use methamphetamines, quit immediately. Prolonged meth use can cause severe dry mouth, leading to tooth loss. Visit your doctor or a local health clinic for information on how to quit smoking and drug use.
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    Try artificial saliva. There are over-the-counter and doctor-prescribed products that create artificial saliva and stimulate the production of natural saliva. Artificial saliva is not a complete substitute for natural saliva, since it does not contain the digestive and antibacterial enzymes that natural saliva contains. But it can be useful in relieving the discomfort of dry mouth. Artificial saliva products may be available in rinses, sprays, toothpastes or washes.
    • Many of these products do not require a prescription, but they are not often easy to find. Ask your pharmacist to help locate these products.[12]
    • Artificial saliva is rarely prescribed unless you are suffering from a severe syndrome, such as Sjögren's syndrome.
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    Be sparing with over-the-counter cold medications. Antihistamines and decongestants dry up your mucus production, thus worsening dry mouth. If you have a cold or need to treat congestion for any reason, visit your doctor instead of taking a non-prescription decongestant.[13]

Method 3
Getting a Diagnosis

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    Talk to your doctor or dentist. Find out what is causing your dry mouth. Your doctor or dentist may be able to spot symptoms of gene disorders, medication side effects, allergies, or other untreated causes of dry mouth. Make an appointment, and write down any symptoms you have been experiencing and any treatments you have tried.
    • Bring information about your diet, smoking habits, oral hygiene routines, medications, and medical history.
    • Bring a complete list of prescription and over-the counter medications that you take regularly.
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    Manage your medications. Take inventory of the medications you currently take. If you take any medications, these may add to your dry mouth symptoms. Dry mouth is one of the most common side effects for over a thousand prescription and over-the-counter medications. If you have been prescribed medication for depression, anxiety, nerve pain, or other pain management, that may be the cause of your dry mouth.
    • Cancer patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy often experience dry mouth. This can be a temporary change, or it can be chronic — radiation to the head and throat may permanently damage the salivary gland. Talk to your physician about treating your symptoms.[14]
    • Older people often experience dry mouth as a result of medications.
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    Get tested for autoimmune diseases. There are serious medical conditions that trigger dry mouth. If you experience dry mouth as well as dry eyes, talk to your doctor about Sjögren’s syndrome, a disorder that affects the immune system, and is predominantly found in women aged 30 – 50. Your doctor may be able to prescribe certain medicines to decrease these symptoms.[15]
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    Talk to your doctor about your injuries and disorders. Dry mouth can be a side effect of many conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, thyroid dysfunction, cerebral palsy, and endocrine disorders. If you have already been diagnosed with one of these conditions, ask your doctor about the possibility of dry mouth being a side effect.[16]
    • If you have recently had a bone marrow transplant, this may have caused your dry mouth.
    • If you have recently suffered nerve damage to your head or neck, this may have caused your dry mouth.
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    Rule out false perceptions. Certain conditions can cause you to misdiagnose yourself with dry mouth. If you have Alzheimer's disease, or if you have recently suffered a stroke, you may perceive your mouth as dry despite normal function of your salivary glands. Check your symptoms: Is your saliva thick or stringy? Have your teeth begun decaying at a faster rate, despite normal oral hygiene? Do you have bad breath? Is it difficult to wear your dentures?[17]


  • Note that dry mouth can be a symptom of a variety of disorders, or a cumulative result secondary to poor lifestyle choices. Having dry mouth does not immediately mean you are ill.

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