What medications cause dry mouth?
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, there are more than 1,100 prescription or over-the-counter drugs that may cause dry mouth. The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia. The most common medications that cause dry mouth are in a class of drugs called anticholinergics. Anticholinergic drugs that may cause dry mouth include:
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Blood pressure drugs
- Seizure drugs
- Antispasmodic (muscle relaxing) drugs
These drugs may be used to treat people for digestive, heart, urinary, nervous system and lung disorders. Older adults are at high risk for dry mouth because they tend to take more medications.
Other drugs that may cause dry mouth are used to:
- Treat acne
- Reduce anxiety
- Control diarrhea
- Control abnormal heart rhythms
- Reduce nausea
- Treat serious mental health disorders (antipsychotic)
- Reduce appetite
- Lower stomach acid (antacids)
- Open up breathing tubes (bronchodilators)
- Relieve nasal congestion
- Increase urine output (diuretics)
- Relieve pain, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), narcotics and opioids
- Treat Parkinson’s disease
- Help you sleep
- Stop smoking
- Control leaking of urine (incontinence)
Other causes of dry mouth
Dry mouth can also be a symptom of several conditions, including:
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- High blood pressure
- Hepatitis C liver infection
- Lymphoma (a cancer affecting white blood cells)
Dry mouth is caused by a reduced amount of saliva. Saliva has many important functions. These include moistening your mouth and throat for swallowing, protecting your mouth and throat from germs, cleaning and healing, and helping you digest food.
Symptoms of dry mouth include difficulty tasting, chewing, swallowing and speaking. Dry mouth increases the risk of tooth decay and mouth infection. If your dry mouth is caused by medication, your doctor may be able to change your medication or lower the dose. Saliva substitutes can be used along with home care such as chewing sugar-free gum, brushing your teeth more often and drinking more water.
Because so many drugs can cause dry mouth, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any medication you are taking may cause dry mouth. Even if you are not taking any medications that may cause dry mouth, you should let your doctor know if you have dry mouth.
- American Academy of Oral Medicine (AAOM). Xerostomia. October 2015. Available at: https://www.aaom.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=107:xerostomia&catid=22:patient-condition-information&Itemid=120. [Accessed February 6, 2022].
- Tan E CK, Lexomboon D, Sandborgh-Englund G, Haasum Y, Johnell K. Medications That Cause Dry Mouth As an Adverse Event in Older People: A Systematic Review and Metaanalysis. Journal of the American Geriatric Society. 2018 Jan;66(1):76-84. https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.15151.
- American Dental Association (ADA). Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). February 2021. Available at: https://www.ada.org/resources/research/science-and-research-institute/oral-health-topics/xerostomia. [Accessed February 6, 2022].
- U.S. National Library of Medicine Bookshelf. Xerostomia. StatPearls. June 2021. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK545287/. [Accessed February 6, 2022].
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