You know that feeling of a sticky cotton mouth you sometimes have at bedtime or during the night? A dry mouth can be very irritating, but it also can be a symptom of an underlying health concern or the side effect of a medication.
Referred to as a symptom and not a disorder, dry mouth at night thankfully can be treated and prevented. We will examine the science behind dry mouth and look at ways to relieve the issue with dry mouth home remedies.
The medical term for dry mouth is xerostomia and occurs when there is a change in the production of saliva by the glands in the mouth, known as salivary glands. It is usually associated with anxiety, snoring, aging, and severe dehydration. It should not be confused with the occasional occurrence of experiencing a dry mouth due to thirst. This condition of xerostomia is more serious and consistent.
What Causes Dry Mouth At Night?
Dry mouth can be caused by several health concerns, leading to a loss of appetite and possibly impacting the condition of your teeth. Dryness of mouth at night can be especially uncomfortable. Let’s look at some of the most common causes.
Prescribed and over-the-counter drugs can have dry mouth as a listed side effect. Those most commonly associated with the condition include muscle relaxants and pain relievers.
Aging plays a big part in the dry mouth symptom but probably not for the reason you think. The actual act of getting older doesn’t cause it so much as associated medications that older people are more likely to take than young people. Health conditions that are common with the aging process can also influence the number of cases.
3. Cancer Treatments
Your salivary glands can be temporarily affected by certain chemotherapy drugs. The function of the glands usually returns to normal following treatment. Dry mouth can also result from any radiation therapy on your neck or head. This can temporarily or permanently damage the glands.
4. Nerve Damage
Similar to resulting damage from radiation treatments, any nerve damage in the neck or head regions can cause dry mouth. This can also occur with a neck or head injury or damage from a surgery.
5. Health Conditions
Existing health conditions ranging from open mouth breathing to autoimmune diseases can promote dry mouth. Although the salivary glands are not directly affected by strokes or Alzheimer’s disease, dry mouth can occur in these states.
6. Tobacco Use
Any use of tobacco products, whether smoking or chewing, can cause a person to have dry mouth, especially dry mouth at night.
This central nervous system drug leads to a condition referred to as meth mouth, where teeth are damaged and severe dry mouth occurs.
Symptoms of Dry Mouth at Night
Various symptoms of dry mouth at night are caused by the lack of saliva produced. We need saliva to fight harmful bacteria and acid substances that lead to tooth decay, inhibit swallowing, and cause bad breath. Recognize the signs of:
- Constant thirst
- Dry or sticky feeling in mouth or throat
- Mouth sores
- Cracked lips
- Dry tongue, or burning sensation on tongue
- Issues talking, eating, tasting, or swallowing
- Sore throat or hoarseness
- Bad breath
- Mouth infections such as thrush
- Sticky or string-like saliva
Home Remedies for Dry Mouth at Night
There are treatments and preventions your doctor and dentist may suggest such as changing current medications, the use of artificial saliva products, or other medical devices. You can also try various home remedies to treat and prevent dry mouth at night.
1. Increase Fluid Intake
To maintain saliva production, hydrate your body throughout the day. Drink water, smoothies, herbal teas, and one to two glasses of coconut water each day. Eat water-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, liquid dishes such as soup, or suck on ice chips. Make sure to drink water with your meals to assist with chewing and swallowing problems. Avoid caffeine and alcohol products as these dehydrate you.
2. Maintain a Healthy Mouth
Treat dry, cracked lips with a moisturising lip balm. Brush your teeth after every meal with a toothpaste containing fluoride and remember to floss.
3. Breathe with Nose
To prevent dry mouth, breathe through your nose, especially at night. If you snore, your dry mouth will worsen and you may need to seek treatment for your snoring. Add moisture to your room with the use of a humidifier.
4. Use Sugar-Free Treats
To refresh your mouth and help keep it moist, use sugar-free gum or candy. Avoid foods high in sugar and acidity to prevent tooth decay and prevent irritation of dry mouth by not consuming spicy or salty food products.
5. Stimulate Saliva
Over-the-counter products can offer aid in saliva substitutes. Avoid any products with antihistamine and decongestant properties.
Common ingredients found around the home may also bring relief and prevent further dry mouth at night conditions.
- Aloe vera plants are used for dry mouth to stimulate taste buds and protect mouth tissue. The juice of the aloe vera plant can be used as a rinse several times a day or as a direct drink treatment with ¼ cup each day. Apply aloe vera gel around the inside and outside of mouth two to three times daily before rinsing with water.
- Ginger is best used naturally by chewing on a piece of it. You may also enjoy drinking ginger tea throughout the day.
- Fennel seeds contain flavonoids that may treat dry mouth, fight bad breath, and promotes production of saliva. Eat alone throughout the day or add in a mixture with fenugreek seeds and roast in oven. Enjoy ½ teaspoon after meals.
- Cardamom is a helpful spice as it also used to treat dry mouth and bad breath. You can use one teaspoon of the powder form in a tea several times a day, or simply chew on the cardamom.
- Grapeseed oil acts as a moisturizer and treats sores associated with dry mouth.
- Cayenne pepper is a popular saliva stimulant as it also aids in boosting taste buds. Use it directly on the tongue or add to food dishes. Apply the oil to the inside of mouth and on tongue for overnight. Rinse well in the morning.
- Lemon can promote saliva with its juices. It will also get rid of bad breath as it targets harmful bacteria. Sip on a glass of lemon juice and honey mixed into water. You can also rub the lemon on your tongue.
- Slippery elm is a medicinal herb used for centuries for various ailments. Its mucilage property aids in treating dry mouth and throat when mixed with water. Use one to two tablespoons of slippery elm to make a cup of tea. Sweeten with honey and drink twice a day. You can also add to warm water for a paste. Coat inside of mouth for a few minutes before rinsing.
Experiencing the not-so-friendly cotton mouth feeling of dry mouth at night can disturb not only your sleep, but also your health. While the causes of dry mouth at night may range from a natural lack of saliva production to a side effect of a health condition, dry mouth is not a disorder itself. As a symptom, dry mouth can lead to serious health issues. Dry mouth can be temporary and treated with several home remedies, along with any treatments your doctor may recommend.
- Natural Ways to Relieve a Salty Mouth
- How to Reduce the Metallic Taste in Mouth
- Keeping Your Mouth Clean with Natural Oils
Nordqvist, C., “Dry Mouth (Xerostomia): Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment,” Medical News Today, December 5, 2016; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/187640.php#xerostomia_symptoms, last accessed February 14, 2017.
“Dry Mouth,” Mayo Clinic; http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-mouth/basics/lifestyle-home-remedies/con-20035499, last accessed February 14, 2017.
“Home Remedies for Dry Mouth,” Top 10 Home Remedies; http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/home-remedies-dry-mouth.html, last accessed February 14, 2017.