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Dry Mouth at Night: How to Relieve Dry Mouth Discomfort

Elizabeth SanFilippo

A good night's sleep is important for good health, but that peaceful slumber can be difficult to achieve if you frequently wake up with dry mouth at night.

Causes of Dry Mouth

The causes of xerostomia, the medical term for dry mouth, can vary, but during the nighttime hours, lack of saliva is most often caused by sleeping with your mouth open or snoring. Emotional causes, such as stress, and side effects to medications can also play a factor. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) reports that more than 400 medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, list dry mouth as a possible adverse side effect.

No matter what the cause, frequent dry mouth is an issue that should be addressed by a healthcare professional. Your mouth needs saliva, even when you're sleeping. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay, because it washes away bacteria and food and assists in swallowing. When you have dry mouth at night, your mouth can become red and irritated, making you more likely to get an infection. Additionally, addressing this issue could improve your sleep.

Treatment for Dry Mouth at Night

It's best to talk to your dentist about how to address dry mouth, but there are some simple things you can do to relieve the discomfort in the meantime. For starters, change some of your habits by cutting back on caffeine and soda, alcohol and smoking. The Mayo Clinic suggests avoiding sugary or acidic foods and candies, since they greatly increase the risk of tooth decay, especially when coupled with dry mouth. During the day, be sure to drink plenty of water, as additional fluids will help the production of saliva.

When it comes time for bed, the Mayo Clinic recommends brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and using a fluoride rinse rather than an alcohol-based mouthwash, which can further dry out your mouth and tongue.

It also recommends that you turn on a humidifier at night, so the air in your bedroom isn't too dry. Keep a glass of water next to your bed that you can sip on it should you be woken up by your dry mouth at night is also a wise move.

Visit Your Dentist to Address Underlying Causes

Xerostomia might not be a disease, but it can be a symptom of a larger medical issue. If your dry mouth is accompanied by other symptoms -- including a burning sensation in the mouth, cracked lips or corners of the mouth, more plaque than normal and bad breath -- it's important that you go to your healthcare professional to talk about what you can do to relieve the dryness. He or she may suggest a dry mouth rinse, sugarless lozenges, fluoride prescription toothpaste, artificial saliva or saliva spray, and the doctor can help you address other underlying causes of your dry mouth.

Learn more about dry mouth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Source: Flickr Creative Commons

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