Published on 11 October 2022

What To Do If Anxiety Causes Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

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Most people assume that anxiety is just a state of mind that impacts mental health and is acceptable. But some things can be caused by anxiety. A dry mouth is one of those.

Dry mouth, chronic dry mouth (Xerostomia), a lack of saliva, bad breath, dry throat, increased thirst, and a dry and sticky tongue are common symptoms of Anxiety disorder, including anxiety and panic attacks. Any problem that interferes with the salivary glands' functioning will lead to a dry mouth, as these glands must function well.

Why Does Anxiety Cause Dry Mouth?

When stress suddenly hits you, your mouth's saliva flow decreases. It negatively impacts salivary glands and leads to less saliva production. It can also make your mouth sticky and taste bad, which are common side effects of dry mouth.

When you feel anxious, you are more likely to breathe through your mouth. You may take a breath less deeply as it becomes difficult to breathe through your mouth. This is how dry mouth occurs. 

In some cases, people with anxiety may go through, Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid comes into your throat, causing a dry mouth.

However, anxiety and its treatments aren't the only causes of dry mouth, as mouth breathing (typically during a panic attack) can also result in this condition. 

Research On Anxiety And Dry Mouth

Three groups were created to see the effect of salivary flow in patients with depression and anxiety. One thousand two hundred two individuals showed a flow rate under 0.1ml/min of salivary and xerostomia/ dry mouth.

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory questionnaire (STAI) was used and disclosed different results in 64 dental and medical students. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was used to assess the physiological stress marker, cortisol. Researchers found that salivary proteins that increase with stress did not affect the salivary flow rate linked to public speaking. (Naumova et al. 2012) The differences indicated that the salivary gland's function might be influenced by gender and age.

Di Loreto 2013 compared two groups of 46 students (with and without anxiety) to see their effect on stressful stimuli. The Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (TMAS) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) results indicated a significant relationship between cortisol levels and increased salivation.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth Anxiety

  • Reduced saliva than normal
  • Finding it challenging to swallow due to lack of saliva
  • Feeling dry or sticky tongue
  • Having problems with your breath
  • Having issues/difficulties while chewing and speaking  
  • Facing issues while wearing your dentures
  • Not able to spit due to lack of saliva 

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Each of us needs saliva to moisten our mouths and digest food daily. It controls the bacteria and fungi in the mouth and prevents infection. Our mouth gets dry and uneasy when we don't make enough saliva.

Apart from anxiety, there are some reasons which may cause dry mouth, which include:


Many drugs are not prescribed by doctors and are taken by people on a remedial basis, but these medications have side effects, including dry mouth.

Among them, medicines more likely to cause problems are drugs used for depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure, as well as some antihistamines, muscle relaxants, and pain medications.


Most people will experience dry mouth symptoms as they start aging. Some factors responsible for Xerostomia include using certain medications, changes in the body's ability to process those drugs, nutritional deficiency (N L Rhodus), and constant health issues.

Cancer therapy: 

There are drugs used for chemotherapy that may change the amount and nature of saliva produced, which can be temporary, and saliva flow will return to normal after completing the treatment. Also, Radiation treatment may damage your salivary glands, causing a remarkable decrease in saliva production. It can be temporary or permanent, as the area treated and the radiation dose will play a vital role. 

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD):

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRED) is when stomach acid reaches your esophagus. This muscular tube carries liquids and food from the mouth to the stomach. It usually causes dry mouth in children. It is also commonly seen in people with anxiety.

Nerve damage:

If you had any surgery or met with an accident and faced severe injury, it can result in a dry mouth since some nerves in the body transfer messages from the brain to salivary glands. When these nerves get damaged, it becomes difficult for salivary glands to make saliva, which leads to dry mouth/xerostomia.

Breathing Through Mouth 

The most efficient and healthiest way to breathe is through the nose. But sometimes, feeling anxious can lead you to breathe through your mouth. This condition is called hyperventilate, and this can lead to dry mouth.

Other health conditions: 

Some health conditions like diabetes, stroke, and yeast infection may cause symptoms of dry mouth. Alzheimer's and certain autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren's syndrome or HIV/AIDS, can also lead to Xerostomia. Breathing with an open mouth or snoring can also contribute to a dry mouth.

Tobacco and alcohol use:

Some people drink a lot of alcohol or have a habit of chewing tobacco. This increases the risk of developing dry mouth symptoms.

Recreational drug use: 

Methamphetamine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It can cause rapid breathing, anxiety, severe dental issues, and throat itching, leading to skin sores and dry mouth. Marijuana causes dry mouth since it also has an impact on our nervous system, which reduces the production of saliva.

Side Effects of Dry Mouth?

A deficiency of saliva plays a vital role in your well-being and may cause serious problems. When you maintain surroundings inside your mouth and keep your mouth moist, then you are protecting yourself from severe distress, dental issues, and other health issues.

Contrarily, Xerostomia may cause pain and health problems, directly affecting our quality of life. They include

  • Development of plaque and gum disease 
  • Nutritional deficiency may occur since you are not able to swallow or chew
  • Oral thrush, 
  • Mouth sores
  • Autoimmune disorders

When To See The Doctor?

  • If you observe severe symptoms, you should immediately see the Doctor.
  • Please visit your healthcare provider when you have HIV and dry mouth risk factors.
  • See your dentist for Tooth Decay.


Level Two recovery is one of the most effective treatments for anxiety. Level One Recovery will teach how anxiety and stress affect your body. These symptoms are not very severe or do not lead to mental illness. You can eliminate those symptoms by using level one and level two recovery. 

Level Two recovery will identify the cause of anxiety and the factors responsible. When this recovery was addressed, anxiety disappeared since you will understand the root cause of concern, making it easier to eliminate those symptoms.

Follow These Steps To Overcome Dry Mouth

  • Don't take decongestants for dry mouth.
  • Take medication in the morning. 
  • Try easy-to-swallow formulas, such as liquids. 
  • Use a fluoride rinse.
  • Try a mouthwash designed for dry mouth.

Tips To Overcome Dry Mouth Naturally

With the help of the following tips, you can quickly ease the symptoms of dry mouth. 

  • Drink water or a sugar-free drink.
  • Chew sugar-free gum.
  • Breathe through your nose.
  • Quit smoking cause it reduces the production of saliva.
  • Try to be hydrated.
  • Limit your caffeine intake.
  • Apps For Anxiety

Sometimes while traveling by train, bus, or cab. You face specific incidents that suddenly make you feel anxious and nervous. In such times, we can use these apps to overcome anxiety. These are instant natural remedies for anxiety.

  • Headspace
  • Calm
  • Breathe2Relax
  • Stop, Breathe & Think

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solution

A dry mouth is a common side effect of anxiety, which usually occurs when stress comes into your mind and impacts salivary glands, which soars the mouth. In other cases, anxiety affects stomach acids that go into the throat, leading to a dry mouth.

You can experience dry mouth symptoms due to the side effects of certain medicines, aging, cancer therapy, nerve damage, health conditions, and alcohol and tobacco use. Other causes, like Dehydration, Mouth-breathing, and Medical conditions, are also responsible for causing dry mouth symptoms.

There are specific side effects like oral thrush, mouth sores, and others, but they can be treated with the help of therapy. You can also use apps like Headspace, Calm, Breathe2Relax, Stop, Breathe & Think to deal with anxiety.

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