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The Link Between Anxiety and Dry Mouth

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Dry mouth is a problem that affects many people and has a long list of sources. It might surprise you to know that anxiety and stress can cause dry mouth, and so can the related medications. We've got you covered with helpful information on dry mouth, from symptoms and causes to treatment and prevention.

Dry Mouth Overview

A lack of saliva is the cause of dry mouth, which is also known as xerostomia. Saliva is released by major and minor salivary glands found throughout your mouth, some of which are microscopic. A low level of saliva production in your glands is a common source of dry mouth and can result from many causes.

Symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • A dry, itchy, or sticky feeling in your mouth
  • Difficulty with speaking, swallowing, or eating
  • Changed taste of foods and drinks
  • Difficulty adhering dentures to gums
  • A hoarse voice
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Bad breath

Can Anxiety Cause Dry Mouth?

There are two main ways that those with stress are more likely to experience dry mouth: reduced salivary flow and related medications.


Stress can affect your body in numerous ways and increase your likelihood of developing a large array of conditions, and dry mouth is no exception. Stress and anxiety can affect the flow of your saliva and cause dry mouth, according to the Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects.


Many medications cause dry mouth as a side effect, including some prescription and over-the-counter options for anxiety, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Dry mouth may be a side effect for medications that treat:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Pain
  • Allergies
  • Diarrhea and incontinence
  • High blood pressure
  • Parkinson's disease

Overall, those with anxiety should pay special attention to their oral health because they’re more likely to experience dry mouth and develop other dental problems. According to the Journal of Affective Disorders, those with anxiety are at greater risk of developing dental disease.

If this is troubling, take comfort in the fact that there are many steps you can take to reduce stress and treat dry mouth that are directly in your control.

Helpful tip: Anxiety and associated medications are far from the only cause of dry mouth. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with your dental professional if you’re having trouble discerning the cause of your dry mouth symptoms.

Dry Mouth's Physical Effects

Dry mouth can be thought of as a lack of saliva in your mouth and can lead to discomfort and problems eating, swallowing, or speaking. It also plays an essential role in your long-term dental health.

Surprisingly, saliva is one of your body’s best tools for preventing oral problems and keeping your mouth moisturized and healthy. It helps maintain and support both hard and soft tissues, including your teeth and gums.

Your saliva is vital to your dental health, so much so that the American Dental Association calls it the “bloodstream of the mouth.” Because of this, a lack of saliva can disrupt your body’s proper functioning and lead to dental problems.

Saliva helps to:

  • Wash out food matter and debris
  • Break down food for swallowing and digestion
  • Prevent cavities, gum disease, and infection
  • Strengthen your enamel with minerals (calcium, fluoride, and phosphate)

Treatment and Prevention

Even though dry mouth can be a hassle to deal with, there are many tools at your disposal to manage your discomfort and its effects. Even better? You can address your stress head-on or consult with dental professionals for their diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Preventing dry mouth is a great way to thwart the development of other dental symptoms and conditions. It’s a great idea to brush your teeth twice a day and clean between your teeth once a day to prevent other problems resulting from chronic dry mouth.

Steps you can take to treat dry mouth or prevent it from occurring include:

  • Practice relaxation techniques to reduce and manage your stress.
  • Consider connecting with a psychiatrist, therapist, or other professional for expert advice on stress reduction.
  • Consult with your medical or dental professional regarding medications that may be causing your dry mouth. They may also recommend medication to treat your dry mouth.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or consume dairy products as both promote saliva production.
  • Drink water regularly and rinse with an alcohol-free mouthwash for dry mouth after meals to help wash food from your teeth and gums.

Dry mouth has many causes, two of which are anxiety and medications associated with it. Fortunately, you have the power to prevent resulting health conditions. You're now in a great position to reduce your stress and manage the symptoms of dry mouth.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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