Is Dry Mouth Cause for Concern?

Categories: Oral Health


Saliva glands are exactly what they sound like: glands in the mouth that produce saliva. We don’t give much thought or credit to saliva, but it’s incredibly important to physical health, including dental health. Saliva aids in the digestion process by lubricating food and washing away food particles. It also neutralizes acids produced by mouth bacteria that lead to bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.

“Dry mouth” is a condition in which the salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva. It has a number of potential underlying causes, including age and certain medical conditions, or it could be the result of cancer radiation treatment or side effects of certain medications.

If you’ve noticed you’re frequently suffering from dry mouth and you’re curious if it’s cause for concern, our Santa Cruz dentists compiled the following information to help you decide if it’s time to reach out to a dental professional:

What are the dangers of dry mouth?

Dry mouth can happen occasionally when, for instance, someone is nervous or has slept with their mouth open. Usually, this is temporary and can be corrected by hydrating with water. Persistent dry mouth, however, can severely impact a person’s general health and the health of their teeth and gums, their appetite and their enjoyment of food. In other words, a lack of saliva can have a major impact on someone’s quality of life.

What are symptoms of dry mouth?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, symptoms of dry mouth include:

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
  • A burning feeling in the mouth
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Cracked lips
  • A dry, rough tongue
  • Mouth sores
  • An infection in the mouth
  • Bad breath 

Can dry mouth cause cavities?

If the mouth isn’t producing enough saliva, it increases a person’s risk of developing plaque buildup, which leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Dry mouth can also cause mouth sores, thrush (an oral yeast infection), cracked lips, sores or splits in the corners of the mouth and poor nutrition from having to avoid healthy foods due to issues chewing and swallowing.

How do I relieve dry mouth?

  • Chew sugar-free gum — Gum sweetened with xylitol increases saliva production.
  • Limit caffeine intake, stop smoking, and don’t use mouthwashes with alcohol — These cause the mouth to be even drier.
  • Sip water regularly
  • Breathe through your nose — If you’re a night mouth breather, speak with your dentist about how to correct this through oral appliance therapy.
  • Avoid over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants — These can worsen symptoms.
  • Moisturize the air at night — Use a room humidifier.


You don’t have to suffer from dry mouth. If you’ve tried all the tips above and are still struggling with persistent dry mouth, reach out to our family dentists at Ebrahimian Integrative Dentistry. We can help pinpoint the cause of your dry mouth and can correct it if the underlying problem is a dental issue. If not, we know a specialist that can help! Call us at (831) 824-5111, or reach out to us online today!