Oral dryness, also known as xerostomy, is linked to a decrease in the amount of saliva produced (hyposia) and/or a change in the composition of saliva (e.g. more viscous saliva). The feeling of lack of saliva or dry mouth is variously appreciated and felt according to people. Some have hyposilia (low saliva production) without feeling dry mouth. On the other hand, other people say they have dry mouths, but there is no objective decrease in the amount of saliva produced. Everyone may one day be confronted with the problem, if only because of a fever. What is a little less common is to have this symptom all the time, with many medications that can reduce saliva production, this symptom is quite common. Women and seniors are the most affected.


The person, who has dry mouth, has symptoms such as the absence of saliva under the tongue, where this fluid is normally present in abundance:

  • Feeling sticky and dry mouth and/or throat
  • Cracked lips and dry tongue, sometimes abnormally red
  • Burning or irritation of the mouth, especially during the absorption of spicy food
  • Increased thirst
The person also complains:
  • A decrease in the perception of food taste)
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Speech disorders with speech problems (dysphony)
  • Difficulties in wearing his dentures
When a person has a dry mouth, a consecutive condition may appear:
  • Infections in the mouth (e.g., oral fungus)
  • A build-up of food debris between the teeth, on the mucous membranes and in possible prostheses
  • Bad breath or "halitosis"
  • Gum disease (gingivitis)
  • Tooth decay

When consult a doctor?

When a decrease in salivary secretion appears as an adverse effect of a medication, you should talk to your doctor. If possible, they may try to modify your treatment to replace or stop the medicine in question. If this replacement is not possible, an adaptation of the dosage may sometimes be considered. Clinical examination is usually enough. However, tests exist, the best known of which is the Schirmer test when one suspects a Sjogren's syndrome, for example: a small strip of blotting paper is placed by one end in the inner corner of the eye and the ophthalmologist looks after 2 minutes, what is the length of the paper moistened. If this length is less than 20 mm, dry eyes are proven.

Communicate with a health professional

During your trip abroad, you may have to deal with self-medication issues. Depending on the symptoms observed and/or your pathology, you may decide to consult a doctor or visit a pharmacy or para pharmacy/drugstore. At the beginning of the interview with the pharmacy team, it will sometimes be necessary to report to the pharmacist or his team, specific points related to your state of health:

  • My allergies (food, pollen, medication, etc.)
  • Poorly supported medicines
  • Doubts or difficulties in following a particular treatment
  • All my treatments, not to mention those taken on my initiative or occasionally (medicinal plants, dietary supplements, over-the-counter medicines, etc.)
  • Pregnancy or desire for pregnancy
  • A particular topic to address (travel location, vaccination, etc.)
Hello, I have oral dryness, can you give me some medicines, please? Bonjour, j'ai une bouche sèche, pourriez-vous me donner des médicaments, s'il vous plaît? What form is the medicine in (tablets, capsules, sachets, etc.)? Sous quelle forme se présente le médicament (comprimés, gélules, sachets, …) ? How to take the medication (doses, schedules, diet)? Do I need to take it or take them regularly? What should I do if I miss a dose? When will the drug start to work? Comment prendre le ou les médicaments (doses, horaires, alimentation) ? Dois-je le ou les prendre régulièrement ? Que devrai-je faire si j’oublie une dose ? Quand le médicament commencera-t-il à agir ? Are there any foods, drinks or activities that I should avoid while taking this medication? Y a-t-il des aliments, des boissons ou des activités que je dois éviter pendant que je prends ce médicament ? What are the possible risks and side effects associated with this medication and which would require me to see a doctor immediately? Quels sont les risques et les effets secondaires possibles liés à ce médicament et lesquels nécessiteraient que je consulte immédiatement un médecin? Are there any special precautions to follow? Y a-t-il des précautions particulières à respecter ? How do I keep this medication? Comment conserver ce médicament ? Can I combine alternative treatments (homeopathy, plants)? Puis-je associer des traitements alternatifs (homéopathie, plantes) ? Can I take this medication if I am pregnant or breast-feeding? Est-ce que je peux prendre ce médicament si je suis enceinte ou si j’allaite ?

Health advices

Drinking enough and often is a simple way to rehydrate your mouth. If the eyes are affected (Sjogren's syndrome), artificial tears should be used. Medicines that cause dry saliva are well known and doctors are trying to give the smallest effective dose to avoid causing this disorder. Among the treatments most often involved are certain antihypertensives (Catapressan ® for example), antidiarrheic (Loperamide), certain sleeping pills, antinausea (Scopoderm®), certain antidepressants (Laroxyl ®, Prozac ®, etc. It is sometimes possible to substitute one medicine for another that does not have this side effect. To try to prevent dry mouth, it is recommended:

  • Limit the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, even coffee and soft drinks that can worsen symptoms;
  • Regularly drink small amounts of water to moisten the mouth and place a humidifier in the bedroom to limit nighttime discomfort.
  • Finally, it is important, in case of xerostomy, to have impeccable oral hygiene and to consult the dentist regularly to prevent the appearance of cavities, among other disorders.

Medicines that may be used

Medicines that may be used after discussion and validation with health professional could be found below: