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What is dry mouth, and what does it mean?
Dry mouth happens when the glands that produce saliva aren’t working well. It’s also called xerostomia or hyposalivation. It’s not considered an official diagnosable condition, but it’s sometimes a symptom of another condition.
Dry mouth can be very uncomfortable, but home remedies can provide relief.
These remedies aren’t proven to cure dry mouth, only to relieve it.
1. Drink water
2. Avoid certain medications
More than 90 percent of dry mouth cases are caused by medications.
One study review found that common types of medication that may cause dry mouth include:
- hormone medications
If you think your medication is causing your dry mouth, talk to your doctor.
Never suddenly stop taking a medication without your doctor’s approval.
3. Kick dehydrating habits
Here are some recommendations:
- Avoid caffeine. Caffeinated beverages can be dehydrating. Studies have found that drinking caffeinated coffee or tea causes dry mouth.
- Limit alcohol use. Alcohol may dehydrate, which can contribute to dry mouth. When experiencing dry mouth, try drinking water instead of alcohol. Interestingly though, alcohol use isn’t a proven risk factor. This was tested and established in studies like this.
- Stop smoking. Smoking tobacco can also dehydrate. Cutting down or quitting may reduce dry mouth symptoms. A
2014 studyfound that smoking increased dry mouth issues. However, in a 2011 review, being a smoker wasn’t an associated risk factor.
- Drop sugar. Like caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, sugar may dehydrate you. If you can, try cutting down on sugary foods to reduce dry mouth problems. Avoidance of sugar, particularly sugar-containing beverages, was recommended in this 2015 study.
4. Suck on sugarless candies
Sucking on a sugar-free candy may provide some short-term relief from dry mouth. This includes products like cough drops, lozenges, or other candies.
5. Chew sugarless gum
Sugar-free gum can also provide short-term relief from dry mouth. Also, some gum contains xylitol, which helps stimulate saliva production.
6. Improve overall oral care
Dry mouth may be both a symptom and a cause of poor oral hygiene. Improving oral routines could be crucial to protecting the health of your mouth. This includes frequent flossing, fluoride toothpaste use, and mouthwash use.
7. Use alcohol-free mouthwash
Mouthwash is effective in improving overall oral hygiene, which can factor into dry mouth.
More specifically, mouthwashes containing xylitol helps promote saliva production. This may provide short-term relief, as mentioned in
8. Avoid breathing through your mouth
Mouth-breathing can make dry mouth worse and cause other oral health problems.
Try breathing through your nose more often than your mouth, especially when experiencing any dry mouth discomfort.
9. Get a humidifier
Creating humidity may help dry mouth simply by adding more moisture to your environment.
10. Herbal remedies
Many herbs can help stimulate saliva production and temporarily relieve dry mouth, among them:
- Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis). The gel or juice inside aloe vera plant leaves is moisturizing for the mouth. Purchasing aloe vera juice is a great way to treat dry mouth.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale). Ginger is a well-known herbal sialagogue. This means it helps stimulate saliva production, which also helps dry mouth. Ginger’s sialagogue action is mentioned in many studies, including
this 2015 study.
- Hollyhock root (Alcea spp.). Hollyhock has moisturizing action similar to aloe vera. A 2015 study showed it helped dry mouth with the help of Malva sylvestris, a close relative.
- Marshmallow root (Malva spp.). Marshmallow root is an emollient and moisturizing plant like aloe. It’s popular in traditional herbalism. A 2015 study showed it helped dry mouth with the help of Alcea digitata, a close relative.
- Nopal cactus (Opuntia spp.). Nopal cactus is a traditional food and medicine from Mexico. Also called prickly pear cactus, it’s gaining popularity in the health industry. A 2017 study showed nopal could improve dry mouth or hyposalivation.
- Spilanthes (Spilanthes acmella). Spilanthes is a popular herb used for improving dental health. One traditional use is as a sialagogue for increasing salivation, which may help dry mouth.
- Sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum). According to this 2011 study and one in 2017, sweet peppers promote salivation.
11. Try over-the-counter saliva substitutes
You can purchase saliva substitutes at your local pharmacy. Many different brands offer saliva substitutes, such as xerostom.
These products are great for short-term relief but probably won’t cure the cause of your dry mouth.
Having dry mouth is rarely a serious issue. Sometimes it’s a sign you’re just a bit dehydrated.
See your doctor:
- If you think medications are the cause. It’s best to discuss going off medications before discontinuing their use.
- If you have symptoms of other conditions also. Other conditions include:
If these conditions are causing your dry mouth, treating the underlying condition will be more effective than home remedies.