What’s the Connection Between Dry Mouth and Thyroid Disease?

May 25th marks World Thyroid Day, an important day to generate awareness about thyroid disease and how it affects those suffering from it. There are many forms of thyroid disease, and dry mouth is one of the most common side effects. In fact, about 50% of people diagnosed with dry mouth (xerostomia) have thyroid disease. 


In this blog post, we’ll discuss the different types of thyroid disease and treatments, dry mouth and its treatments, and the connection between the two. Read on to learn more about the link between thyroid disease and dry mouth. 


Types of Thyroid Disease

Thyroid disease is the second most common endocrine disorder in the world (diabetes is number one). The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland that produces two main hormones: T-4 and T-3 (thyroxine and triiodothyronine). These hormones affect a wide range of bodily functions, from metabolism to body temperature control to heart rate, and more.  


Thyroid disease is when the gland stops functioning properly. There are several types of thyroid disease:

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid): When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormones. Hypothyroidism can be caused by autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s disease, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy, thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid), lack of iodine, various prescription medications, and more. 
  • Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid): When the thyroid produces too many hormones. Hyperthyroidism causes include autoimmune diseases, including Graves’ disease, thyroid nodules, thyroiditis, tumors, and overtreatment of hypothyroidism. 
  • Goiters: When the thyroid gland is enlarged, it’s called a goiter. While some goiters are harmless, some can lead to the malfunctioning of the thyroid. Goiter symptoms include a feeling of neck fullness or tightness, difficulty swallowing and breathing, changes in voice, and coughing. 
  • Cancer: There are several types of thyroid cancer, but the most common one is papillary thyroid cancer. Cancer itself can harm thyroid function, as can treatments like radiation therapy and chemotherapy. 


Thyroid Disease Symptoms

Different types of thyroid disease present with different symptoms. Usually, if hypothyroidism causes a symptom like sensitivity to cold, hyperthyroidism will cause the opposite: sensitivity to heat. The symptoms of all thyroid disease typically revolve around the same specific areas, since the thyroid’s hormones impact the same bodily functions:

  • Metabolism: Thyroid disease can cause unexplained weight loss or gain.
  • Fatigue: Slowed or increased metabolism can both lead to fatigue.
  • Body temperature control: Thyroid disease can increase sensitivity to cold or heat. 
  • Heart rate: Underactive thyroid can slow the heart rate, while overactive thyroid can make it speed up.
  • Mood: Thyroid disease can cause depression, anxiety, and irritability.
  • Skin: Skin may become dry or sweaty and clammy. 
  • Menstruation: Thyroid disease can cause irregular or extremely heavy menstruation.


The Connection Between Thyroid Disease and Dry Mouth

Different types of thyroid disease present with different symptoms: often tiredness, muscle pain, and changes in heartbeat, hunger, digestion, and skin.


Dry mouth is another common symptom, usually triggered by two results of thyroid disease:

  • Slowed metabolism: With a slowed metabolism, the salivary glands don’t receive enough stimulation to produce enough saliva. 
  • Salivary gland damage: Thyroid inflammation or autoimmune changes may directly affect the salivary glands’ ability to produce enough saliva. 


Fortunately, both thyroid disease and dry mouth are treatable. 


Thyroid Disease Treatments

Thyroid disease treatment depends on the type of disease, as well as the patient’s medical history and situation. 


Hypothyroidism is usually treated with the prescription medication, levothyroxine, though sometimes getting the right dosage is a matter of trial and error. 


Hyperthyroidism is usually treated with antithyroid medication, such as methimazole and propylthiouracil, beta-blockers, and radioiodine therapy.


For goiters, the treatment depends on the cause. Those caused by underactive or overactive thyroid will be treated accordingly. Those caused by an imbalance of iodine can be treated with small doses of iodine or potassium iodine solution.


Thyroid cancer is typically treated with thyroid surgery, hormone therapy, radioactive iodine, targeted drug therapy, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.  


Dry Mouth Treatment

Thyroid disease treatments can alleviate some of the symptoms caused by the disease, including dry mouth. 


However, some thyroid treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy, end up causing dry mouth as well. When that happens, dry mouth should be treated as an independent symptom. 


Dry mouth treatment is worth considering as it can cause mild to severe discomfort. Symptoms include:

  • Dry, sore throat and tongue
  • Hoarseness
  • Bad breath
  • Increased dental caries
  • Change in taste
  • Trouble talking, chewing, and swallowing
  • Trouble wearing dentures


Common dry mouth treatments include:

  • Electrostimulation: This method uses a small device that’s inserted into the mouth to deliver small electrical impulses. This stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva. The SaliPen is an FDA-approved electrostimulation device for dry mouth treatment. 
  • Prescription medications: While some medications cause dry mouth, others can treat it by chemically stimulating the salivary gland’s production of saliva.
  • Saliva substitutes: These add artificial saliva to the mouth to reduce discomfort and other dry mouth symptoms. Substitutes come in various forms, including lozenges, mouthwashes, sprays, and chewing gum. 
  • Lifestyle changes: Drinking more water every day, breathing through your nose at night, cutting back on caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, and using a humidifier at night.


If you’re interested in learning more about the SaliPen, visit our product page or contact us here



How are dry mouth and thyroid disease related?

The most investigated connections are explained below:


1: One of the main causes of dry mouth is Sjogren’s syndrome, and one of the main causes of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Both Sjogren’s and Hashimoto’s are autoimmune diseases. And it is well known that having one autoimmune condition puts you at risk for developing other autoimmune diseases. Sjogren’s syndrome is highly prevalent among those with Hashimoto’s, while individuals with Hashimoto’s are nearly four times more likely to develop Sjogren’s syndrome than those without Hashimoto’s.


2: Another link between dry mouth and thyroid disease is related to thyroid cancer treatment. Radioactive iodine targets the thyroid gland, but other glands, such as salivary glands, may also take up some radioiodine. This can cause patients to develop dry mouth.


Some believe that hypothyroidism-induced slowed metabolism acts on the salivary gland function, so not enough saliva is produced. 


Are all types of thyroid disease the same?

No. There are several types of thyroid disease: hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), goiters, and thyroid cancer. 


Is thyroid disease treatable?

Yes, thyroid disease can usually be treated with medication. In the case of thyroid cancer, additional treatment options are available, such as surgery, radioactive iodine, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.  


What are the symptoms of dry mouth?

Dry mouth symptoms vary from person to person, but generally include dry, cracked lips, sore throat, poor oral hygiene, including increased dental caries and infections, and trouble eating, chewing, and speaking. Sometimes, dry mouth causes so much discomfort that it disrupts sleep


Is dry mouth treatable?

Yes, there are several common treatments for dry mouth, including electrostimulation via the SaliPen, prescription medication, and artificial saliva substitutes. Also, lifestyle changes can go a long way, such as drinking more water, sleeping with a humidifier, and making sure to breathe through the nose (not mouth). 


Is the SaliPen safe to use?

Yes, the SaliPen is FDA-approved and safe for home usage. We provide clear and detailed instructions so anyone can use it from the comfort of their own home. 


Not only is the SaliPen safe to use, but it’s effective. Here you can read clinical evidence supporting the success of electrostimulation in the treatment of dry mouth. 


Why is World Thyroid Day important?

Thyroid disease affects approximately 200 million people in the world, which makes it a disease worthy of our attention. The more we are aware of thyroid disease and its symptoms, the better preventative measures we can take and the more informed our decisions can be regarding treatment.