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Dry Mouth - What You Should Know


Updated May 28, 2014

2 of 4

Part 2 of 4 - What Causes Dry Mouth?
People get dry mouth when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. Because of this, there might not be enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. There are several reasons why the salivary glands might not be working right.


Sjogren's Syndrome is a major cause of dry mouth.

Other disorders can also cause dry mouth or affect the salivary glands. Some people experience dry mouth even if their salivary glands are working correctly. Some with certain diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, or those who have had a stroke, may not be able to feel wetness in their mouth and may think their mouth is dry even though it is not.

Side Effects of Some Medicines

More than 400 medicines can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva. However, you should not stop taking them without asking your doctor. Your dose may have been adjusted to help protect against drying side effects or the drug you take may have been selected because it is less likely to cause dryness. Drugs that can cause dryness include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Some anti-diarrhea drugs
  • Some anti-psychotic drugs
  • Tranquilizers
  • Some blood pressure medicines
  • Antidepressants

Radiation therapy

The salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.


Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing dry mouth.

Nerve damage

Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves that signal salivary glands to produce saliva.

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