What causes dry mouth and bad breath?


Around 10% of the population experience ongoing dry mouth and bad breath. Dry mouth syndrome (xerostomia) is a common condition which is typically caused by lifestyle factors, specific medications and the natural ageing process. Whilst it is normal for the salivary glands to produce less saliva as we age, it is worth consulting with your dentist if you have any concerns so that any other contributing factors can be ruled out. In this blog post, Central Brunswick Dental care will be sharing some of the common symptoms of dry mouth to look out for, as well as contributing factors and treatment options available. 

Is a dry mouth something to be concerned about?

Everybody experiences dry mouth from time to time, usually as a result of dehydration. In this case, saliva production should increase after consuming water. If you are dealing with a persistent dry mouth, you may be experiencing xerostomia. It is important to address the issue early, as chronic dry mouth can lead to complications including:

  • Bad breath
  • An increased risk of developing cavities
  • Mouth sores
  • Oral thrush
  • Cracked lips

Common Symptoms of Dry Mouth

Saliva plays an important role, as it helps to ensure sufficient lubrication of the mouth, throat and lips. It also aids the digestion process and helps in eliminating stuck food, neutralising acids and preventing infection. 

If the salivary glands are impaired, you will notice a reduction in the quantity of saliva in your mouth. This in turn may result in the following symptoms:

  • Dry and/or uncomfortable mouth, tongue and lips
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty eating
  • Thick or stringy mucus in the mouth
  • Odd sensations such as tingling within the mouth

Common Causes of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can be experienced by people of any age. Whilst it is most common amongst older people, the below factors have been linked to this condition:

  • Dehydration – it is recommended that adults consume a minimum of 2 litres of water each day. This will help to stimulate saliva production and ensure healthy bodily function. 
  • Medications – some medications are known to contribute to the development of dry mouth. Prescription medications such as antidepressants, blood pressure medication, sedatives, painkillers, muscle relaxants and antihistamines can all cause this condition.
  • Health disorders/diseases – some conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and lupus may cause dry mouth.
  • Tobacco/Smoking – tobacco contains numerous chemicals which can impair the salivary glands. It is not uncommon for smokers to experience chronic bad breath and dry mouth. 
  • Chemotherapy 
  • Caffeinated Beverages – coffee and other high caffeine beverages can cause dehydration, resulting in dry mouth.

Treatment Options for Dry mouth

Most people can relieve their symptoms by maintaining good oral hygiene and adopting some lifestyle changes. If this fails to improve your symptoms, your dentist will advise on the most appropriate treatment options following an initial consultation. This condition is typically treated with artificial saliva substitutes, although surgery may be necessary to restore salivary gland function. 

Experiencing persistent dry mouth? Visit Central Brunswick Dental Care Today

CB Dental Care have a wealth of experience in all aspects of dental care, and regularly treat patients with dry mouth. Please don’t hesitate to book an appointment by calling (07) 3216 1100 today. We look forward to seeing you at our Fortitude Valley dental clinic soon.