Effects of mouth dryness on drinking behavior and beverage acceptability

Physiol Behav. 2002 Jul;76(3):423-9. doi: 10.1016/s0031-9384(02)00762-x.


In humans, the association between mouth dryness and thirst has been examined in a variety of contexts. Typically, drinking behavior produces a concomitant reduction in unpleasant dry mouth sensations. Evidence is reviewed for a mechanism that influences the termination of drinking behavior by metering this change. Drinking behavior causes a progressive increase in parotid saliva flow. Thus, one possibility is that satiety results from a decrease in the reward associated with mouth wetting during a drinking episode. Beverages can differ in their satiating ability. This variability may be related to their mouth-wetting characteristic, and may be reflected in a shift in their acceptability when the mouth becomes dry. Physically drying the mouth appears to increase the acceptability of beverages that are either cold or acidic. It may be significant that two important determinants of mouth wetting are temperature and acidity. Cold or acidic beverages are also likely to be regarded as 'thirst-quenching.' Thus, shifts in acceptability, 'thirst quenching' and satiety may all be related to the mouth-wetting properties of a beverage. The extent to which this coincidence is meaningful warrants further investigation. However, if a common underlying process exists, then this may help to elucidate reasons for voluntary dehydration and aberrant drinking behavior in the elderly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Beverages*
  • Drinking / physiology
  • Drinking Behavior / physiology*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Thirst / physiology
  • Xerostomia / psychology*