Waking Up with Dry Mouth

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, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). 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. Your doctor may recommend changing some of your medications or prescribe preparations such as saliva stimulants or substitutes, according to the American Dental Association. 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. Cleveland Clinic recommends keeping your meals moist – incorporate breakfasts with healthy broths or sauces to make them easy to digest until your salivary glands are back to normal. Other steps you can take include:

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 dry mouth can occur with age in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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.

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Dry Mouth


Known by its medical term, xerostomia (zeer-oh-stoh-mee-ah), dry mouth is when you do not have enough saliva to keep your mouth wet and moisturized.


Dry mouth can occur when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. Some common causes include:

  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Cancer therapy (radiation/chemotherapy)
  • Autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Smoking

Related Conditions

Dry mouth got you feeling parched?

Dry mouth can leave your mouth feeling dry and irritated. Try one of our toothpastes formulated to help prevent the occurrence of dry mouth symptoms after brushing.