Why Does Toothpaste Make My Mouth Dry?

We all know we need to brush our teeth at least twice daily to keep them healthy and clean. However, brushing your teeth often is not without its drawbacks. Have you ever struggled to moisten your mouth to speak clearly after brushing your teeth after lunch at work?

Why is your toothpaste making your mouth dry?

Toothpaste Ingredients that Can Cause Dry Mouth

For all of the dental health benefits that come with brushing twice per day, some toothpaste brands do contain properties that can leave one’s mouth feeling quite dry. The reason for this is that many toothpaste brands contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a chemical compound that creates foam while you’re brushing your teeth.

When coupled with fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate does an excellent job in terms of cleaning your teeth and protecting them against cavities. However, in the process, it can also irritate sensitive teeth and gums and, for many people, leave the mouth feeling dry. Studies show that more than 85 percent of toothpaste brands on the market contain sodium lauryl sulfate. Some of these well-known toothpaste brands include the following:

  • Pepsodent
  • Crest
  • AquaFresh
  • Colgate

Best Products To Help With Dry Mouth

Most dentists will agree that sensitive teeth, irritated gums, and dry mouth should not discourage people from brushing their teeth twice per day as doing so is essential to good overall oral health. As such, many dental practitioners will advise their patients to consider brushing their teeth with toothpaste that does not contain SLS, such as Sensodyne, for example.

While Sensodyne does not contain SLS, it does have enough fluoride to fend off cavities while helping to promote healthy gums. It also contains sodium bicarbonate and calcium bicarbonate, both of which can freshen breath.

If you routinely develop a dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, along with any of the other symptoms mentioned in this article, after brushing your teeth with your usual toothpaste, switching to Sensodyne or another SLS-free toothpaste might be worth considering.

Read More: What Is The Best Toothpaste For Dry Mouth?

After all, doing so will keep your teeth and gums healthy without leaving your mouth feeling dry, which means you will likely be more excited about brushing twice per day as recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) and most dentists.

What You May Not Have Known About a Chronic Dry Mouth

Another reason to consider transitioning to an SLS-free toothpaste is that, over time, those that contain SLS can leave your mouth chronically dry, which presents a whole new set of problems. And this is especially true for brands marketed for their tartar control and whitening prowess.

According to an article published by the Oral Health Group, an online resource for the latest news concerning products and innovations in the dental industry, a chronic dry mouth can lead to the following:

  • Sticky saliva
  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • Bad breath
  • A poor sense of smell
  • Altered taste
  • A burning sensation affecting the mouth, lips or tongue
  • Mucosal irritation

Along with these many symptoms, a chronically dry mouth can have a profound impact on the oral cavity if not rectified. And this is true whether the condition stems from a physical ailment, medication, or brushing with an SLS-containing toothpaste.

When an individual develops a dry mouth, it indicates that their saliva production is too low. Both of these conditions can cause numerous soft and hard tissue changes that negatively impact the oral cavity.

Soft Tissue Changes That Stem From Low Saliva Production and a Dry Mouth


For some people, long-term use of SLS-containing toothpaste not only leads makes their mouth dry but also causes the following soft tissue changes that affect various parts of their oral cavity, some of which include

  • Lips that become extremely dry
  • A decrease in filiform papillae on the tongue
  • Cracking and fissuring of both the tongue and corners of the mouth
  • Excessive plaque buildup on the tongue
  • Oral thrush
  • Mouth ulcers

Some of the hard tissue changes associated with low saliva production and a dry mouth include the following:

  • Dental caries (cavities)
  • Tooth decay
  • Receding gums and dentinal hypersensitivity
  • A buildup of plaque on teeth and dental appliances

Is It Really Your Toothpaste? Other Causes of Dry Mouth

It is also worth noting that a dry mouth can be brought on by things other than toothpaste, including certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, HIV, or Sjogren’s syndrome, for example. Dry mouth can even be caused by taking certain medications, some of which include antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics.

Bottom Line

Aside from underlying health problems and certain medications, many people develop dry mouth due to the sodium lauryl sulfate found in most toothpaste brands, which can cause a decline in saliva production. Fortunately, boosting saliva production and improving one’s oral hygiene in the process often comes down to switching to a non-SLS-containing toothpaste.

Additionally, making use of a mouthwash that contains xylitol can improve saliva production even more. Of course, if these at-home remedies do not help, it would be better to be seen by a dentist or medical doctor rather than skipping out on brushing altogether.