Do you wake up with a desert-dry mouth or sore throat every morning? Do you wake several times during the night, desperate for a bit of cool water over your sticky, arid tongue, gums, and throat? Maybe you’ve got bad breath that doesn’t go away despite brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash exactly the way you should. Or you might be noticing more tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems than you’ve ever had before.
The signs of dry mouth while sleeping are pretty obvious. What’s not always as clear is what’s causing it or how to prevent it. After all, you’re asleep so it’s not like you can monitor and figure out what’s happening.
Let’s explore exactly what dry mouth is, the symptoms and causes, and how you can prevent or at least mitigate it.
What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is a health condition that affects the salivary glands in the mouth. It makes you unable to produce enough saliva to keep your mouth wet and is characterized by this lack of saliva. You may produce some saliva but not enough or you may struggle to produce any saliva at all.
Although dry mouth is a health condition, it is not one that typically appears alone. It is usually caused by another health condition, such as Sjögren disease or another autoimmune disease, or by things like dehydration, medication use, or chemotherapy. This is why it’s important to take action to get to the root of your dry mouth.
Dry Mouth Symptoms
Dry mouth symptoms can vary from one person to the next. The most common symptoms of dry mouth at night include:
- Thick or stringy saliva
- Dry or sore throat
- Dry and/or chapped lips
- Waking up because you feel like you’re unable to take in a breath through your mouth due to dryness
- Bad breath in the morning
- A sticky buildup of saliva in the morning
- Waking up frequently to drink water
During the day, common symptoms of dry mouth can also include:
- Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- Unpleasant taste or changes in the way food tastes
- Increasing discomfort when wearing dentures
- A bad taste in your mouth
Causes of Dry Mouth
One common cause of dry mouth at night is snoring or breathing through the mouth because your nasal passages are clogged or inflamed, using mouth ware such as bite splints or dental retainers, or using a CPAP machine due to sleep apnea.
Other causes of dry mouth include:
- Simple aging
- Tobacco use
- Neck or head damage due to surgery, injury, or radiation treatment
- Nerve damage in the head or neck
It can also be the result of medications, including:
- Blood pressure medication
- Pain medications
- Muscle relaxants
Why is My Mouth So Dry When I Wake Up?
There are a couple of reasons for this. One is that the body naturally produces less saliva at night than it does during the day. This means that any saliva production you may have diminishes even more at night.
Another reason is, as previously stated, people tend to breathe more through the mouth at night. The air drawing in and out through the mouth organically dries the mouth out even more.
These factors combine with the fact that you’re sleeping. During the day, you’re awake and aware when your mouth is starting to feel dry. You may also make the extra effort to drink more water to avoid having a dry mouth while awake. While you’re sleeping, however, you won’t realize how dry your mouth is getting until it’s so dry it wakes you up or you wake up in the morning and realize it’s much drier.
How to Prevent Dry Mouth While Sleeping
There are several things you can do to prevent dry mouth while sleeping. You might try just one remedy or a combination of them in order to find some relief.
Nighttime Dry Mouth Remedies
There are several options for relieving dry mouth and most are as simple as some lifestyle changes.
Try these remedies:
- Use a humidifier at night to add moisture to the air
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated
- Use a fluoride toothpaste and/or use a fluoride rinse
- Use a moisturizing dry mouth mouthwash and avoid those with alcohol
- Avoid spicy, acidic, and sugary foods before bed
- Limit or eliminate alcohol and caffeine, as well as tobacco and drug use
- Use a dry mouth moisturizing spray
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Use nasal sprays or strips to open the nose for better breathing
- Avoid over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants
- Use saliva substitutes
- Ask your pharmacist about medications you take to learn if dry mouth is a side effect and alternative medications you can take
Oral health is the gateway to the health of the rest of your body. Dry mouth can cause several significant problems if left untreated. Whether you find and eliminate the source of your dry mouth or need a little help figuring it out, let us help you keep your mouth moist and healthy.