Why Is My Mouth Dry? | Robina Town Dental
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Why Is My Mouth Dry?

sensitive teeth

An occasional dry mouth could mean you’re not drinking enough water, but a persistent dry mouth can be a sign of a more serious problem that needs professional care.

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is an oral health condition that occurs when the salivary glands at the back of your mouth don’t produce enough saliva. This can happen for many reasons, from physical blockages in the salivary ducts to effects of tobacco use and certain medications.

Treatments for a dry mouth vary, depending on the underlying cause. Our dentists at Robina Town Dental will aim to identify what’s causing your mouth to feel dry so we can recommend suitable treatments and prevention. Call our team today on 07 5575 9100 or book an appointment online.

Why is a dry mouth a problem?

If your mouth is frequently or constantly dry, it may not be making enough saliva. Saliva helps to cleanse your mouth of leftover food and drink and to neutralise acids released by plaque bacteria, lowering your risk of tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health problems.

Saliva also helps with chewing, swallowing and digestion, which can help you avoid digestive issues. Reduced saliva can also affect speech and the sense of taste, as well as causing general discomfort.

When should I see a dentist for dry mouth?

You should see a dentist if your mouth frequently feels dry or sticky even after you drink water, as this can indicate a problem. Other symptoms often associated with dry mouth include:

  • Dry or sticky tongue or lips
  • Thick or stringy saliva
  • Sore or hoarse throat
  • Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Changes in taste
  • Trouble speaking, chewing or swallowing
  • Sore or burning sensation in your mouth
  • Red or white patches in your mouth
  • Lipstick sticking to teeth
  • Dentures feeling loose

If dry mouth isn’t treated or managed, it can lead to an increased risk of oral health problems, infections such as oral thrush, poor nutrition or digestive problems, and other issues.

If you think you might have dry mouth, contact our Gold Coast dentists so we can diagnose the root cause of the problem and discuss effective treatments.

What causes a dry mouth?

Persistent mouth dryness is usually caused by impaired function of the salivary glands, which itself can have many possible causes. It may also happen for other reasons.

Your dentist will examine your mouth, ask about your symptoms and check your medical history or other relevant details to help them work out the most likely cause and the best approach to take.


A dry mouth isn’t a natural effect of ageing, but long-term health problems and other age-related factors that accumulate over time mean that a dry mouth becomes more likely with age. It’s estimated that dry mouth affects around 25% of older adults, compared to around 10% of the overall population.


Feeling anxious or nervous may cause temporary mouth dryness. This may be a recurring problem if these feelings are experienced frequently.


Dry mouth may be a direct result of not drinking enough water, or dehydration caused by a health issue such as fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, blood loss or kidney failure. This can reduce fluid levels in the body, including saliva.

Mouth breathing

Breathing through your mouth can cause it to dry out. This can happen due to a blocked nose, sinus problems, or snoring and related sleep disorders.

Dry air

Dry mouth may be more likely if the air in your bedroom or other surroundings has less moisture.

Hormone changes

Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause can increase the risk of dry mouth and related oral health problems such as gum disease. It’s recommended to have regular dental visits during pregnancy to help lower these risks.

Tobacco, alcohol and drug use

Smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking alcohol and using drugs such as marijuana and methamphetamine can also result in mouth dryness, especially with more frequent use. Heavy smoking and heavy drinking are also factors for other oral health conditions, including gum disease and mouth cancer.


Dry mouth is listed as a common side effect of many over-the-counter and prescription medications, including some antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, muscle relaxants, sedatives, pain relief, anti-anxiety and high blood pressure medications.

Medical conditions

Dry mouth can sometimes be caused by an infection of the salivary glands themselves, such as mumps. It may also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as diabetes, Sjögren’s syndrome, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy or lupus.

Medical treatments

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy targeting the head or neck can affect the function of the salivary glands. This is usually only temporary, but higher doses may result in permanent damage.

Blocked salivary duct

Saliva flow may be physically blocked by small stones or mineral deposits that build up in the salivary ducts.

Nerve problems

Injuries, surgery or illnesses that affect nerves in the face, head or neck may affect the salivary glands, as the facial nerves are involved in their function.

How is a dry mouth treated?

There’s no single treatment for a dry mouth. While dry mouth products may provide temporary or long-term relief from your symptoms, your dentist or doctor will focus on treating the underlying cause when possible.

Depending on your situation, treatment recommendations for dry mouth may include:

Saliva substitutes

Artificial saliva substitutes can help to stimulate the salivary glands or replace natural saliva when used during or after eating, as directed by your dentist. They come in the form of topical gels, sprays and tablets.

Dry mouth products

Besides saliva substitutes, other dry mouth products that may be recommended include lubricating toothpastes and mouthwashes, and oral hygiene products containing calcium or fluoride to help prevent tooth decay and other risks.

Nasal decongestants

If dry mouth is related to a blocked or stuffy nose, sinus problem or similar issue, your doctor may prescribe a decongestant. These come in the form of drops, tablets and diffusers and can provide short-term relief from related symptoms, such as mouth dryness.

Medical treatments

If dry mouth is a symptom of an infection or other medical condition, treating the underlying problem should also relieve dryness. Your dentist will refer you to your GP or another qualified specialist if they think you need a diagnosis and treatment.

In some cases, such as dry mouth caused by Sjögren’s syndrome or radiotherapy, a saliva substitute may be provided.

Changing medication

If dry mouth may be a side effect of medication you’re taking, your doctor may recommend a change of medication or change of dose to help prevent it. This won’t always be possible, however, and it’s important not to make changes to your medication yourself without consulting your doctor first.


In severe cases, or cases of physical blockages, minor surgery may need to be performed directly on the salivary glands to remove obstructions and restore their normal function.

How to prevent dry mouth

Dry mouth can often be prevented by taking good care of your oral hygiene and taking steps to lower other risk factors. Recommended preventive steps include:

  • Stay hydrated – carry a water bottle and have regular drinks of water or other unsweetened cold drinks throughout the day, preferably containing fluoride that helps to combat tooth decay
  • Chew sugar-free gum or sugar-free lollies, or suck on ice cubes to help stimulate saliva
  • Eat chewy foods and foods with a high water content, making sure to chew thoroughly before swallowing
  • Brush your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day to help reduce plaque
  • See a dentist once or twice a year for a regular check-up, dental cleaning and oral hygiene treatments
  • Use an air humidifier if the air in your bedroom or other rooms is too dry
  • If you wear dentures, take them out before you go to sleep
  • A lip balm could help with dry lips

Some things to avoid include:

  • Drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, which can dry out your mouth
  • Sipping drinks slowly, as this can rinse away saliva
  • Spicy or salty foods that can cause dryness
  • Sugary and acidic food and drinks that contribute to tooth decay and gum disease
  • Crunchy foods that may cause irritation or injury to a dry mouth
  • Smoking and other tobacco products
  • Alcohol-based mouth rinses
  • Situations that may cause anxiety-related dry mouth
  • Stopping or changing medication without talking to your doctor first

Dry mouth treatments Gold Coast

If you want relief from a dry mouth and to lower your oral health risks, make an appointment with our Gold Coast dentists at Robina Town Dental. Call us on 07 5575 9100 to talk to our friendly staff or send us a message and we'll get back to you with details as soon as we can.

We are conveniently located in Robina Town Centre. We welcome patients from all nearby locations including Burleigh Heads, Mudgeeraba, Miami, Varsity Lakes, Burleigh Waters, Merrimac, Mermaid Waters, Worongary and Clear Island Waters.

Call Now: 07 5575 9100