How to prevent dry mouth while sleeping

How to prevent dry mouth while sleeping

Dry mouth is not only uncomfortable but can also be a sign of the state of your general oral health. Luckily, it may be treated with small lifestyle changes and seldom requires medical treatment.

Causes of dry mouth at night

The most common cause of dry mouth is the slow or low production of saliva, which mostly occurs with people over the age of 65. However, this is not always the case, and the condition has to be treated, regardless of your age or health condition. The importance of saliva production, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, is not only to prevent dry mouth, but it helps with swallowing, speaking and breaking down food with the enzymes and amylase it contains, which makes it easier for your stomach to digest. This, in turn, ensures good gut health.

However, if dry mouth only occurs during the night, it could be a sinus problem, which forces you to breathe through your mouth and not your nose. Sleeping with your mouth open allows the air to dry up what should be a moist, lubricated area.

Certain medications also cause dry mouth. It is reported by the American Dental Association that there are more than 500 medications that cause dry mouth. Certain illegal narcotics (such as crystal methamphetamine) also have dry mouth as a side effect. This could be because certain chemicals in the drug’s ingredients decrease the amount of saliva in the mouth. The reduction in saliva increases the likelihood of dental caries, enamel erosion and periodontal disease. 

Crystal Meth – Meth Mouth 

The dental effects of long-term meth use are often attributed to its effects on saliva, explains Wikipedia. However, there is no proven reason why this happens. A popular theory is that the drug causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of the blood vessels) in salivary glands. This decreases salivary flow. 

The site continues that this constriction is thought to be owing to the activation of alpha-adrenergic receptors by both methamphetamine itself and norepinephrine, the levels of which are dramatically increased by methamphetamine use.

Add on extreme energy, lack of food, lack of sleep and extreme perspiration and dehydration, which all occur in many methamphetamine users after drug-induced increases in metabolism, and it is easy to see how dry mouth can occur. The characteristics of the saliva produced during the use of the drug, which includes high protein content, may also contribute to the sensation of dry mouth.

Certain health conditions, such as strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases and HIV/AIDS are also contributors of dry mouth. 

Treating dry mouth at home

If your dry mouth is not severe, chewing gum and drinking water should get rid of the problem. Rinsing with alcohol-free mouthwash should also restore your oral comfort, according to the Mayo Clinic.

However, if the situation worsens, before seeking medical attention, here are some things you could do to treat dry mouth at night:

  • Try your best to breathe through your nose and not your mouth;
  • Reduce your caffeine intake;
  • Reduce, or better yet, quit smoking;
  • Limit alcohol and sugary drinks;
  • Drink water throughout the day. This not only keeps you hydrated but assists in the production of saliva;
  • Gently brush your teeth with a soft-bristle toothbrush and floss at least twice a day;
  • Rinse your mouth with plain water after each meal or snack;
  • Late-night snacking and the consumption of salty foods are also contributors to dry mouth;
  • Keep a glass of water next to your bed to sip during the night if you should wake up owing to the uncomfortableness of your dry mouth; and 
  • Invest in a humidifier for your room to keep the moisture.

What medical treatments are available for dry mouth?

All medical treatments depend on an underlying cause. Therefore, the treatment could differ for each person. 

In the event that your dry mouth is caused by the medication you take, your doctor will switch your medication or adjust the dosage to be taken. You may also receive a prescription to help your body produce more saliva.

If you suffer from nasal problems, which is a major cause of breathing through your mouth, your doctor might suggest performing a septoplasty, which is a common procedure performed to improve or correct a deviated septum. This procedure is known to resolve this symptom.

A visit to your dentist is also recommended to ascertain if your dry mouth has not caused cavities that can then be attended to. In most cases, a fluoride tray will be provided to wear at night.

Your doctor or dentist might also recommend that you purchase:

  • Alcohol-free mouthwash to rinse and gargle with;
  • Dry mouth toothpaste, which enables faster fluoride dispersion than regular toothpaste;
  • Artificial saliva moistens the mouth and can help reduce chronic dry mouth. It can be found in various forms, such as oral spray, gel, swabs or rinses. Depending on the severity of the dry mouth condition, it can be prescribed by a doctor or dentist or easily bought as an over-the-counter medication; and 
  • Chewing on saliva-stimulating lozenges relieves the symptoms of dry mouth, whether they are chronic or simply a case of low saliva production.

Regardless of the level of dry mouth, you are experiencing, do not dismiss the symptoms. Rather attempt to make the small lifestyle changes, and if the problem persists, visit your doctor or dentist to discuss the options available to you. This will not only give you better sleep at night, but you will definitely have better breath in the morning.

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