Salivary Gland Disease Dry Mouth Treatment

Treatment of dry mouth, or xerostomia, begins by identifying which of the many possible causes of dry mouth is the root cause of the problem. Some causes of salivary gland inactivity can be cured, while others require long-term treatments.

Medication Changes

Many medications are causes of dry mouth. If medication is the cause, lowering the dosage can often eliminate xerostomia. If this fails to improve salivary gland production, an alternative medication may exist that doesn’t cause dry mouth. Ask your doctor about alternatives to your medication.

Salivary Gland Stimulants

In cases of chronic dry mouth, saliva stimulants may help trigger salivary gland production. Chewing a sugar-free chewing gum can help stimulate the salivary glands, although this solution assumes that the salivary glands are capable of functioning. Using a humidifier at night will help keep the mouth moist (salivary gland production naturally drops at night, intensifying dry mouth symptoms).

If the salivary glands are not functioning, over-the-counter artificial saliva solutions are available. However, often people with xerostomia prefer to sip water or a sugar-free drink throughout the day.

Dry Mouth Medication

Prescription medications are available that stimulate salivary gland production. Such medication is commonly used to treat Sjogren’s syndrome, or to counteract salivary gland damage caused by radiation therapy.

The medications pilocarpine and cevimeline are the most often prescribed for dry mouth. Saliva-stimulating medications are typically taken three to four times a day, after meals. These medications relieve dry mouth symptoms for up to four hours and have limited side effects.

Dietary Changes for Dry Mouth

Chronic dry mouth symptoms may require changes to diet and lifestyle. Smoking and chewing tobacco both worsen xerostomia, as well as increasing the risk of a wide range of health problems. Alcohol, coffee, tea, and many brands of soda also contribute to a dry mouth, and should be limited or avoided altogether.

Dry food should be avoided when possible, substituting moist or blended food. Take small bites, and chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing. Food that sticks to the roof of the mouth should be avoided. Hot and spicy foods often cause pain and discomfort to a dry mouth.

Dental Care and Xerostomia

A dry mouth starts to have a negative impact on dental health within a few months. Saliva is an essential part of dental hygiene, rinsing the mouth and diluting harmful substances. To protect against cavities, bad breath, and gum disease, people with xerostomia should practice diligent dental hygiene.

Brush after every meal, using fluoride toothpaste. Floss regularly, and use an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwash, which will aggravate dry mouth symptoms.

Antibiotics and Fungal Treatments

A dry mouth increases the chance of thrush, fungal infections, and bacterial infections. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics and prevented by practicing good dental hygiene. Different strategies are called for when treating fungal infections.


Dry (nd). How do you treat dry mouth? Retrieved October 1, 2003, from