A dry mouth is rarely a sign of anything serious. There are things you can do to help ease it yourself. See a GP if these don't work or you also have other symptoms.
Causes of a dry mouth
The main causes of a dry mouth are:
- dehydration – for example, from not drinking enough, sweating a lot or being ill
- medicines – check the leaflet or search for your medicine online to see if dry mouth is a side effect
- breathing through your mouth at night – this can happen if you have a blocked nose or you sleep with your mouth open
- cancer treatment (radiotherapy or chemotherapy)
How to help ease a dry mouth yourself
- drink plenty of water – take regular sips during the day and keep some water by your bed at night
- suck on ice cubes or ice lollies
- chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free sweets
- use lip balm if your lips are also dry
- brush your teeth twice a day and use alcohol-free mouthwash – you're more likely to get tooth decay if you have a dry mouth
- do not drink lots of alcohol, caffeine (such as tea and coffee) or fizzy drinks
- do not have foods that are acidic (like lemons), spicy, salty or sugary
- do not smoke
- do not stop taking a prescribed medicine without getting medical advice first – even if you think it might be causing your symptoms
A pharmacist can help if you have a dry mouth
Ask a pharmacist about treatments you can buy to help keep your mouth moist.
You can get:
- tablets or lozenges
Not all products are suitable for everyone. Ask a pharmacist for advice about the best one for you.
If your dry mouth might be caused by a blocked nose, a pharmacist may suggest decongestants to unblock it.
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- your mouth is still dry after trying home or pharmacy treatments for a few weeks
- you have difficulty chewing, swallowing or talking
- your mouth is painful, red or swollen
- you have sore white patches in your mouth
- you think a prescribed medicine might be causing your dry mouth
- you have other symptoms, like needing to pee a lot or dry eyes
They can check what the cause might be and recommend treatment for it.
Page last reviewed: 4 April 2018
Next review due: 4 April 2021