Dry Mouth: Are Your Medications to Blame?

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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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.






The “typical” antipsychotics

The “atypical” antipsychotics

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.

Dr O.

Drugs featured in this story

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