Dry mouth isn’t just an annoyance, it can lead to serious dental issues. Xerostomia is the medical term for dry mouth and when it happens, you’ll want to know what’s causing it.
Risk factors for dry mouth include medications, mouth breathing, older age, and a history of radiation therapy in cancer patients. Medical conditions that contribute to dry mouth include Sjögren’s syndrome, diabetes, and anxiety disorders, and these can be easily ruled out by your doctor.
Take a look at your medication list to see if your meds could be contributing to dry mouth. Here are the common players:
Anticholinergics. These are medications used for allergies, Parkinson’s, asthma, and overactive bladder.
- Urinary incontinence/overactive bladder meds: These are common causes of dry mouth—in fact, dry mouth is the number one reason folks stop taking these medications. Ditropan (oxybutynin) is a huge culprit of dry mouth in 29% to 71% of people taking it. Other meds used for overactive bladder that lead to dry mouth are are Enablex, Toviaz, Vesicare, Detrol LA (tolterodine ER), and Sanctura (trospium).
- Antihistamines used for allergies and asthma also cause dry mouth. Atarax and Vistaril (hydroxyzine hydrochloride), Clarinex (desloratadine), Xyzal (levocetirizine), Allegra (fexofenadine), Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Claritin (loratadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) can all leave you with a dry mouth.
- Parkinson’s meds like Cogentin (benztropine) can also cause dry mouth.
- Frequently used for the treatment of depression, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) often cause dry mouth. These include citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), fluvoxamine (Luvox), and sertraline (Zoloft).
- Used for chronic pain management and for the treatment of depression, antidepressants such as amitriptyline, doxepin and clomipramine have a strong inhibiting influence on salivary secretion. This, in turn, may lead to dry mouth.
- ADHD medications like Adderall (amphetamine salt combo), Ritalin (methylphenidate) and Concerta (methylphenidate ER) can result in dry mouth in up to 35% of people taking them.
- Appetite suppressants like phentermine (Adipex-P) can also cause dry mouth.
- Anxiolytics (meds used for anxiety) like alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and diazepam (Valium) can cause dry mouth.
- Used for the treatment of high blood pressure, edema of the legs or heart failure, Lasix (furosemide) and hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ) can also contribute to dry mouth.
The “typical” antipsychotics
- Used often in psychiatry: haloperidol (Haldol), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), and fluphenazine (Prolixin) are common culprits of dry mouth.
The “atypical” antipsychotics
- Dry mouth has been reported with the use of mood stabilizers like olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), and clozapine (Clozaril).
Other mood stabilizers like lithium can also cause dry mouth.
Beta blockers, particularly propranolol, have been reported to cause dry mouth.
What can you do about it?
Frequent oral hygiene is the first step in treating dry mouth. Rinsing with cold water, Biotene mouthwash, sucking on ice chips, and chewing sugarless gum to increase salivation may provide comfort.