Dealing with dry mouth

A healthy adult produces about three pints of saliva each day. It's not the kind of thing you would give thought to very often, but that saliva plays a very important role in maintaining your health.

Saliva serves many purposes. It contains enzymes that aid in digestion. Saliva makes it easier to talk, a fact recognized by those who experience stage fright and the associated dry mouth while giving a presentation.

Saliva also helps prevent tooth decay by washing away food and debris from the teeth and gums. It neutralizes damaging acids, enhances the ability to taste food and makes it easier to swallow. Minerals found in saliva also help repair microscopic tooth decay.

Everyone, at some time or another, experiences dry mouth, also called "xerostomia." It can happen when you are nervous, upset or under stress or as a result of medication you take or other medical therapies. If dry mouth happens all or most of the time, however, it can be uncomfortable - and it can have serious consequences for your oral health.

Drying irritates the soft tissues in the mouth, which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Without the cleansing effects of saliva, tooth decay and other oral health problems become much more common.

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Dry Mouth


Known by its medical term, xerostomia (zeer-oh-stoh-mee-ah), dry mouth is when you do not have enough saliva to keep your mouth wet and moisturized.


Dry mouth can occur when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. Some common causes include:

  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Cancer therapy (radiation/chemotherapy)
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Smoking

Related Conditions

Dry mouth got you feeling parched?

Dry mouth can leave your mouth feeling dry and irritated. Try one of our toothpastes formulated to help prevent the occurrence of dry mouth symptoms after brushing.