Dry Mouth among the Elderly: Causes, Facts, and Treatment

Many say that a dry mouth comes as we age, but is not exactly just like that. About 20% of the elderly who have excessively dry mouths may have another condition in which the dry mouth is only a symptom of. It could also be a side effect of medication, or a sign of more dental problems to come.

Causes of Dry Mouth

Among the elderly, having a dry mouth is usually a side effect of medications, some of which include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines
  • Blood pressure medication
  • Decongestant
  • Diuretics
  • Medications for anxiety
  • Medications for overactive bladder
  • Medications for Parkinson’s disease
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Pain pills

As mentioned, many of those who have dry mouth have it because of the above medications, but there are other conditions that can cause the mouth to be dry. Some of these conditions are:

  • Anxiety
  • Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjorgen’s Syndrome, and systematic lupus erythematosus
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stress

Furthermore, dehydration is another factor that can result in dry mouth. Hence, it is essential to ensure that our elderly get the right amount of liquids to prevent this condition.

Possible effects of dry mouth

Saliva is essential because it helps reduce plaque by washing away food debris. Furthermore, it helps replenish the tooth of any minerals lost as we chew and drink. However, a dry mouth means that there is not enough saliva to promote positive oral health. Hence, dry mouth is often a condition that helps tooth decay and gum disease to occur. According to research, about 30% of tooth decay cases among the elderly is a result of dry mouth.

Apart from these, here are other issues that can arise if dry mouth is not treated:

  • Burning sensation in the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty wearing dentures
  • Dry nasal passages
  • Fungal infections in the mouth
  • Hoarseness
  • Problems swallowing food
  • Sore throat

Treating Dry Mouth

Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to treat dry mouth, and consequently improve your oral health. A dentist can prescribe the proper medication to help improve the production of saliva, and regularly seeing one can help prevent other conditions that can cause of come out of dry mouth. Here are some things you can do on your own to prevent this condition:

Sugar-free gums and mints

This helps promote saliva production. If you can find one that contains xylitol, have that one as this substance also helps prevent cavities

Regular flossing and brushing

By instilling proper dental habits, you can prevent the formation of plaque that ends up destroying the tooth’s enamel, making tooth decay possible. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride as it helps keep the teeth strong


By drinking plenty of water, saliva production is also stimulated, thereby preventing dry mouth.

If you are worried about some dental concerns you may have, the team of Greenspoint Dental is here to help you with your worries. Contact us today so we can schedule an appointment.