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Why Do I Wake Up With My Mouth Dry and How to Fix It?

Do you sense a dry mouth when you wake up in the morning? It's not a pleasant feeling and can take a toll on your daily activities. While frequent dry mouth can be very troublesome, there is good news. There are ways to manage it. In this article, we talk about the potential causes of a dry mouth and how to enjoy a healthy mouth throughout the day.

Causes of waking up with dry mouth

The causes behind a dry mouth can be diverse. Here is a list of some common ones:

  1. Not drinking enough water during the day can make your mouth dry when you wake up. This happens because your body doesn't have enough fluids to make saliva, which keeps your mouth moist.
  2. Sometimes, people breathe through their mouth instead of their nose when they sleep. This can dry out your mouth because the air passing over your mouth dries it out.
  3. Some medicines can make your mouth dry. These might include allergy pills, antidepressants, and blood pressure medicines. Talk to your doctor if you think your medicine might be causing your dry mouth.
  4. Sjögren's syndrome is when your body's immune system attacks the glands that make saliva and tears. Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. Both can make your mouth dry in the morning.
  5. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can worsen dry mouth symptoms. Both tobacco and alcohol have drying effects on the mouth, leading to reduced saliva production and leaving the mouth feeling dry and uncomfortable.
  6. As people age, their bodies undergo various changes, including changes in saliva production. As individuals get older, their salivary glands may not work as well as they used to, resulting in reduced saliva production. This decrease in saliva flow can lead to dry mouth sensations, particularly noticeable upon waking up in the morning.
  7. Certain medical treatments, like radiation therapy directed at the head and neck area, can have side effects that affect saliva production, resulting in dry mouth. Similarly, some medications used in chemotherapy can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
  8. When women are pregnant or going through menopause, their hormone levels can change significantly. These changes, especially in a hormone called estrogen, can affect how much saliva they produce. Sometimes, this can lead to dry mouth, especially when they wake up.
  9. When people feel anxious or stressed, their bodies go into a state of heightened alertness, known as the fight-or-flight response. This response triggers changes in the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary bodily functions like saliva production.

How to treat a dry mouth after waking up

Your dry mouth can feel worse just after you wake up. It's best to be aware of some quick remedies to get relief.

Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candies

Chewing gum or sucking on candies stimulates saliva flow by prompting the salivary glands to produce more saliva. Saliva helps to moisten the mouth and wash away food particles and bacteria, providing immediate relief from dry mouth. Opt for sugar-free options to prevent dental decay and cavities.

Rehydrate

Drink a glass of water upon waking up to rehydrate the body and moisten the oral tissues. Swishing water around the mouth and gargling can also help to alleviate dryness. Additionally, consider keeping a water bottle by your bedside to sip on throughout the night if you wake up feeling parched.

Over-the-counter (OTC) products

Several OTC oral moisturizing products are available to provide fast relief from dry mouth symptoms. These products, such as saliva substitutes, moisturizing mouth sprays, and oral rinses, work by mimicking the lubricating properties of saliva and hydrating the oral mucosa. Look for products that are specifically formulated for dry mouth and free of alcohol, which can further dry out the mouth.

Prescription medication

In cases of severe or persistent dry mouth, a healthcare provider may prescribe medications designed to stimulate saliva production or treat underlying conditions contributing to dry mouth. Medications such as pilocarpine and cevimeline can help increase saliva flow and provide rapid relief from dry mouth symptoms. However, these medicines may have side effects and should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Mouthwash

Rinse your mouth with alcohol-free mouthwash or a saline solution to help soothe oral tissues and alleviate dry mouth discomfort. Alcohol-free mouthwashes are less drying than their alcohol-containing counterparts and can provide relief without exacerbating dryness.

Moisturizing oral gel

Apply a moisturizing oral gel or gel-based saliva substitute directly to the oral mucosa to provide instant relief and hydration to dry tissues. These gels form a protective barrier over the oral tissues, helping to retain moisture and alleviate dry mouth discomfort.

Symptoms of dry mouth in the morning

A dry mouth in the morning can make you feel irritable and down.

The common symptoms vary and can range from feeling thirsty to more than just that. Your saliva might be thick and sticky instead of thin and watery, making it hard to swallow, and your throat might feel dry, scratchy, or sore, especially when you wake up. You might also have bad breath because bacteria grow in your mouth when it's dry.

Additionally, your voice might sound different or rough because your throat doesn't have enough moisture. Your lips could be dry, cracked, or chapped, and you might have mouth sores or ulcers. Lastly, wearing dentures or other dental devices might feel uncomfortable because your mouth isn't moist enough.

Tips to prevent dry mouth while sleeping

Here are five easy tips to avoid dry mouth and its related complications:

  1. Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth and tongue, flossing, and using mouthwash before bedtime can help remove food particles and bacteria from your mouth, reducing the risk of oral dryness and bad breath.
  2. Elevate your head while sleeping. Sleeping with your head slightly elevated can help prevent saliva from pooling in the back of your throat and reduce the risk of waking up with a dry mouth. You can achieve this by using a wedge-shaped pillow or adjustable bed frame to elevate your upper body while sleeping.
  3. Maintain proper nasal hygiene. Keeping your nasal passages clear and moisturized can help reduce mouth breathing during sleep, which can contribute to dry mouth. Consider using saline nasal sprays or nasal irrigation techniques to keep your nasal passages hydrated and free from congestion.
  4. Using a humidifier in the bedroom while sleeping can help add moisture to the air and prevent dryness of the oral mucosa and throat. Humidifiers are especially beneficial in dry climates or during the winter months when indoor heating can cause the air to become dry and irritating to the respiratory tract.
  5. Limit or avoid substances that can exacerbate dry mouth symptoms, such as tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, and salty or spicy foods. These substances can further dehydrate the body and worsen dry mouth symptoms.

When to seek professional help?

Knowing when to get help for dry mouth is important. Seeking guidance from a dentist is crucial for effectively managing dry mouth and ensuring optimal oral health. Dentists possess the necessary expertise and resources to deliver personalized care and support tailored to your unique needs. By consulting a dentist, you can access comprehensive treatment options that address dry mouth symptoms and promote a healthier, more comfortable mouth. This proactive approach not only alleviates discomfort but also contributes to the overall well-being of your oral cavity. Here are signs it's time to see a healthcare provider:

  • Dry mouth that doesn't go away. If your dry mouth keeps coming back even after trying home remedies, see a doctor.
  • Dry mouth can make eating and talking hard. If it's causing problems with your day-to-day activities, talk to a dentist.
  • Dry mouth can cause tooth decay and gum problems, too. If you notice dental issues, visit your dentist.
  • If dry mouth makes it hard to sleep, focus, or feel good, it's time to get help.

If any of these things happen to you, talk to a dentist. They can help you figure out what's going on and what to do about it. Furthermore, if you have underlying health conditions (eg. diabetes, oral thrush) or take any medication which may cause you to have a dry mouth as a side effect, you can speak to your healthcare provider for more advice.

Waking up with a dry mouth can feel off and might signal something more serious going on, like dehydration or health problems. While trying out home remedies is a good start, it's always best to reach out for professional help before it's too late. They can offer guidance and support to understand what's happening and help you feel better, both inside and out.

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