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Waking Up with Dry Mouth

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There are few things as uncomfortable as waking up with dry mouth or a parched throat early in the morning. It feels as if you haven't cleaned your teeth in days. Even if you keep water close by to sip during the night, dry mouth, or xerostomia, can still creep in. Here's why dry mouth happens and how to manage it effectively to avoid this problem in the future.

About Dry Mouth

Xerostomia occurs when you don't salivate enough to keep your mouth sufficiently moist. This lack of saliva can be attributed to a number of factors, whether seasonal, habitual or health-related. The most common ones are:

  • A side effect of medications, such as antidepressants, NSAIDs and blood pressure regulators
  • Salivary gland disease
  • The use of radiation for cancer treatment
  • Chronic medical conditions or autoimmune disorders, such as diabetes, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Emotional stress
  • Hormonal changes, including pregnancy and menopause

Keep in mind that waking up with dry mouth problems doesn't necessarily mean you have a serious condition.

Signs and Symptoms

Consider visiting a medical professional if you have some or all of the known symptoms of dry mouth. A dry, sticky feeling in the morning is obviously your best indicator; it may even feel as if your mouth is full of cotton. In addition, look for a burning sensation; a tongue that feels "thick" like leather; trouble performing functions such as chewing, swallowing and speaking; or the development of dry lips and sores in your mouth or throat.

Care and Treatment

Although medical treatment can resolve most medical conditions that contribute to dry mouth, home care is essential to reduce the severity of your symptoms. Dry mouth is a very common side effect of many medications and may improve with an adjusted dosage or a new medication according to the Ontario Dental Hygienists' Association. Over the counter saliva substitutes may also be helpful. These products can help to reduce the dryness while you work to treat the problem itself.

Keep a close eye on the condition of your teeth, too: Dry mouth can increase your risk for dental caries and gum disease. In these cases, it is necessary to see a dentist for an examination alongside your home care routine.

Managing Dry Mouth in the Morning

You can avoid waking up with dry mouth problems by carefully managing your overall health. Above all, stay hydrated the night before. HealthLink BC recommends adding extra liquid to foods to make them easier to chew and swallow. Include ice chips and sugar-free items such as gum, hard candy and lollipops, to keep your mouth moist without promoting tooth decay. Other steps you can take include:

  • Checking your mouth daily for sores and inflammation;
  • Mainining a good oral health regimen;
  • Using products formulated for dry-mouth sufferers;
  • Removing dentures overnight and soaking them in a cleansing solution.
  • By controlling your dry mouth with good personal management and medical attention as needed, xerostomia will be of little inconvenience to you when the sun comes up.

Learn more about how increased risk of dry mouth can occur with age in the Colgate Oral Care resources.