Chronic dry mouth, or xerostomia, can be a major problem: It can affect your ability to eat and enjoy food and can cause cracked lips, bad breath and sores in your mouth. It can also lead to cavities, periodontal disease and tooth loss.

Be sure your doctor knows about your dry mouth; sometimes medications can be changed or dosages reduced. Or, if a drug is causing dry mouth at night, you may be able to combat it by spacing doses throughout the day when it's also possible to brush your teeth often and drink plenty of fluids.

Otherwise, see your dentist for frequent checkups and perhaps topical fluoride treatments and prescription oral rinses to prevent tooth decay and gingivitis.

You can also try these self-help measures:

  • Follow a low-sugar diet. Hard candies can help ease dry mouth, but use the sugarless kind.
  • Include plenty of fruits, soups, sauces and other foods high in water content in your diet. Avoid biscuits, crackers and dry snacks.
  • Try chewing sugarless gum. It stimulates saliva production.
  • Don't smoke or use tobacco in any form. Cut back or eliminate alcohol, which is drying to tissues.
  • Use a humidifier at home.
  • Sip water frequently. Keep a glass of water at your bedside at night.
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste. Brush and floss frequently, as your dentist directs. Use a brush with soft bristles.

Source: Prepared by the Editors of The Johns Hopkins Medical Letter: Health After 50

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 21 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 22 Jul 2013