Have you ever woken from a sound sleep with a dry mouth at night? Dry mouth syndrome, or a dry mouth (xerostomia) can be caused by something as simple as sleeping with your mouth open or as complex as a medication side effect. Read on to find out what may be the cause of your night-time dryness.
Dry Mouth At Night: Causes & Management Tips
Signs of a dry mouth
A dry mouth is caused by the salivary glands not producing enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Saliva is essential as it is key to washing debris from your teeth and remineralising tooth enamel, among other things. With too little of it, you may be at increased risk of tooth decay.
Aside from increasing your risk for cavities, a dry mouth can be quite uncomfortable. If you are experiencing a dry mouth throughout the night, you may notice some signs in the morning, such as:
What causes xerostomia?
The occasional case of a dry mouth may merely be due to dehydration. However, age, medical conditions and habits can also contribute to its symptoms. Healthdirect reports that several medications can cause dry mouth, including over-the-counter medications. It's also associated with diabetes and the autoimmune disorder Sjogren's syndrome.
According to Cancer Council NSW, cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can change or damage the salivary glands, as can nerve damage to the head and neck area.
Regular tobacco and alcohol use can lead to xerostomia. Besides putting you at risk for oral cancer, smoking causes changes in saliva production. Alcoholic drinks and tobacco also irritate an already dry mouth and contribute to bad breath.
Ways to manage a dry mouth at night
Suppose your dry mouth is caused by dehydration. In that case, treatment could be as simple as ensuring you drink plenty of water throughout the day and before going to bed. However, xerostomia caused by medication and other health conditions might need more help to stimulate saliva production or provide lubrication, such as:
- sipping water frequently
- chewing sugar-free gum
- using a bedroom humidifier
- sucking on sugar-free lozenges
As always, make sure you regularly visit your dental health professional – at the frequency they recommend – for optimal oral health care. If you are experiencing a dry mouth, regular cleanings and fluoride treatments can help prevent dental decay and gum disease. Your dentist may also recommend a hydrating rinse to help keep your mouth more comfortable. Hopefully, regardless of the cause of your dry mouth, you and your dental team can work together to find a solution that's right for you.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.