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Have you ever woken up during the middle of the night to find that your mouth is dry? Dry mouth, or xerostomia, can be caused by something as simple as breathing with your mouth open at night, or as complex as a side effect of medication. Read on to find out what may be at the root of your smacking lips during sleep and discover 4 ways to manage dry mouth at night.
Common Signs of Dry Mouth
Oftentimes, dry mouth at night can be caused by salivary glands not producing enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Saliva is key to washing debris from your teeth and remineralizing tooth enamel. With too little of it, you may be at risk for tooth decay.
Aside from increasing your risk for cavities, dry mouth can be uncomfortable. If you are experiencing dry mouth when sleeping, some noticeable morning signs are:
- A sticky feeling in your mouth
- Thick or stringy saliva
- Bad breath
- Dry or sore throat
- Cracked or chapped lips
- Mouth sores
- Changed sense of taste
What Causes Xerostomia?
The occasional case of dry mouth at night may simply be due to dehydration, but age, medical conditions and habits can also contribute to its symptoms. There are many medications can cause dry mouth, such as muscle relaxants, depression and anxiety medications and antihistamines. It’s also associated with diabetes and the autoimmune disorder Sjogren’s syndrome. Cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy and radiation, can change or damage the salivary glands, as can nerve damage to the head and neck area.
Frequent 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.
4 Ways to Manage Dry Mouth at Night
If your dry mouth is caused by dehydration, treating it could be as simple as making sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day and before going to bed. Xerostomia caused by medication and other health conditions might need more help to stimulate saliva production, such as:
Sipping Water Frequently
Health experts recommend drinking approximately eight, 8 ounce glasses of water a day. Increasing your water intake will not only keep you hydrated, but it will also keep you from waking up to mouth noises while sleeping due to parched lips. Keep nighttime dry mouth at bay by keeping track of your H20 intake from morning to night.
2. Chewing sugar-free gum
Sugar-free gum can help provide short-term relief from dry mouth. Some types of gum contain xylitol, which helps stimulate saliva production. Try chewing your gum around bedtime to help prevent smacking lips during sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Your local dentist can give you recommendations for appropriate chewing gums.
3. Using a bedroom humidifier
Humidifiers work by increasing the relative humidity of a room. More humidity in your nasal airways means you’ll be able to breathe better. Humidifiers disperse mist and water vapor into the room, and when you breathe it in, it helps soothe the symptoms of nighttime dry mouth and throat.
4. Sucking on sugar-free lozenges
Just like sugar-free chewing gum, some lozenges contain xylitol that may help stimulate saliva flow. Studies show that taste stimulation and the act of chewing also work to increase saliva production. So, because lozenges take time to break-down in your mouth and you have to use your chewing muscles to suck on them, they may boost saliva flow.
Dental Health and Nighttime Dry Mouth
More than just an annoyance, dry mouth may result in tooth decay. Make sure to visit your dentist at least twice a year for optimal oral health. If you are experiencing dry mouth, regular cleanings can help prevent dental decay and gum disease. Your dentist may also recommend a hydrating rinse. No matter the cause of your nighttime dry mouth, you and your dentist can work together to find a solution.
At Matthews Family Dentistry in Matthews, NC, we are committed to helping our patients find relief from dry mouth and other oral health concerns. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with our experienced dental team in a welcoming environment.