Waking up with a dry mouth can be very uncomfortable. Luckily you can usually relieve it quickly by drinking some water. But what are the causes of dry mouth? Can we prevent it from occurring in the first place? We’ll answer those questions and more in this article. 

What is a dry mouth?

Xerostomia is the medical name for dry mouth, it affects about 10% of the general population. It is defined as having a dry mouth because of reduced or absent saliva flow. Saliva is important to your health as it helps kill bacteria and keeps your mouth clean. So, when the saliva stops flowing it can lead to further health implications. Some symptoms of a dry mouth include:

  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Difficulty speaking
  • A sore throat
  • A tight feeling in your mouth and throat
  • A burning sensation in your mouth
  • Hoarseness
  • A dry nose and nasal passageways

Having a constant dry mouth can lead to other health issues. These may include nutritional problems, oral health issues and psychological distress. Luckily there are treatment options that we will look into later on in the article. 

Reasons why you wake up with a dry mouth

Waking up with a dry mouth can be fairly common and there are many different reasons it could be occurring. Some are more serious than others. Let’s take a look: 

Mouth breathing 

Mouth breathing is one of the most common reasons a person wakes up with a dry mouth. It is common to breathe through your mouth when you have a cold or the flu. This is because your nasal passageways can become blocked. Therefore, your only option for breathing is through your mouth. It can be uncomfortable but should go away as you recover. 

Mouth breathing may also become a habit for some people. This can be a tricky habit to kick, especially if you have been doing it since childhood. It is worth speaking to your health professional about ways to overcome this. 

Another reason for mouth breathing may be obstructive sleep apnoea. This is a serious health condition where breathing stops involuntarily for brief periods during sleep. Up to 38% of Australians are thought to have obstructive sleep apnoea. There are many treatment options available, it is important to speak to your doctor about this. 

Medication 

There are hundreds of medications with side effects that include dry mouth. Unfortunately, you can develop chronic dry mouth from taking such medications. However, these medications may be necessary for your particular health condition. It is always important to speak to your health professional about medications before beginning or stopping them. Let your treating doctor know of any side effects you ever experience from your medications. 

Age

Around 25% of the older population in Australia have dry mouth syndrome. It can be a natural side effect of growing older. However, sometimes it may be due to the rise in health conditions as we age. Some conditions that cause a dry mouth include diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Lifestyle

Dry mouth has been associated with tobacco and alcohol use. Alcohol can be very dehydrating, which can make you wake up with a dry mouth. Watch out for mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as these may also cause dry mouth. 

Smoking can change the saliva flow in your mouth which may lead to a dry mouth. It can also affect your oral and overall health. Smokers have an increased chance of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. 

How do I treat a dry mouth?

There are several ways to treat a dry mouth, even if the underlying cause is not curable. These include:

  • Drinking plenty of water – keep a water bottle by your bed at night
  • Chewing on sugar-free gum
  • Sucking (not chewing) on ice blocks
  • Making sure you drink water with every meal
  • Avoid drinking too much caffeine
  • Use saliva substitutes available from your local pharmacy
  • Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
  • Using an air humidifier at night
  • Use dry mouth specific oral hygiene products 

There are also several products available that alleviate dry mouth. They include gels, topical treatments, oral medications and nasal and mouth sprays. Your health professional can recommend which is right for you. 

Visit your Mona Vale dentist 

There are many reasons why you may wake up with a dry mouth. Luckily there are also many treatment options. It is always best to consult your health professional about such treatments if you are concerned. If you’d like to know more about how your local Mona Vale dentist can help, then give us a call today