It may not seem like a big deal that your mouth gets a little dry at night. But before you completely dismiss your symptoms and the discomfort that comes along with a dry mouth at night, consider what that lack of saliva could be doing to your oral health and quality of life. What may seem like a little annoyance could be doing big damage to your teeth, so it's worth talking to your doctor about it. For now, use some coping methods until you can talk to your doctor or dentist about your symptoms and how they might be affecting more than just your ability to swallow.
Dry Mouth At Night? Why You Shouldn't Ignore The Symptoms
What's the Big Deal?
Here's the thing: What may seem like a little problem can actually have pretty big consequences. According to e-DantSeva, saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralising acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Saliva also enhances your ability to taste and makes it easier to chew and swallow. In addition, enzymes in saliva aid in digestion. . When your mouth is perpetually dry at night, it means that it isn't producing enough saliva, which can lead to bacterial growth (hello, morning breath!), along with an increased chance of cavities, difficulty swallowing and even infection.
What Causes Dry Mouth?
Whether it's a new development or something you've struggled with for a long time, there are a number of reasons your body may not be making enough saliva. First, unless you're a midnight snacker, you naturally decrease the amount of food that you eat at night, which means your body slows your saliva production because there's nothing to digest. But if you've recently started taking a new type of medication, you might notice your mouth getting dry even if you have been eating. The Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology notes that more than 500 drugs have been reported to produce xerostomia as side effect. Other causes of dry mouth include side effects of different medical conditions and radiation and chemotherapy treatments, autoimmune disease, dehydration or lifestyle habits (chronic users of tobacco, for example).
According to the IDA, hard candies treats stimulate saliva, which prevents dry mouth. Chewing a sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities, not only because it helps to dislodge food particles from the teeth, but also because it increases saliva. Saliva works to neutralise the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay. Chewing sugar-free gum containing the artificial sweeteners sorbitol and xylitol reduces cavities. The chewing motion stimulates the flow of saliva, which helps cleanse the teeth. And apart from the IDA's suggestions drinking more water, sucking on ice chips, and maintaining healthy oral hygiene habits are all good too. But if your dry mouth at night is chronic or started when you began taking a new medication, talk to your doctor and schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your doctor can help you learn whether dry mouth is a side effect of a medication, and if appropriate, reduce dosage or try something new. Your dentist can check to make sure that your dry mouth hasn't resulted in cavities or other oral health issues that need to be addressed.
Don't make the mistake of dismissing your nightly dry mouth as no big deal. If it's affecting your comfort and quality of life, it's worth discussing with your health care providers. Together, you can come up with a solution that can help stop your dry mouth and prevent all the negative side effects that come with it. Good saliva production should make for sweet dreams — or at least better breath in the morning.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.