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Dry Mouth At Night? Why You Shouldn't Ignore The Symptoms

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

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 bit of annoyance could be doing significant damage to your teeth, so it's worth talking to your doctor about it.

What Does a Dry Mouth at Night Mean?

Saliva plays a significant role in oral health. It functions as a way to help you digest food, avoid infection by keeping your mouth clean, and even stave off cavities by preventing bacterial growth in your mouth. When your mouth is perpetually dry at night, it means that it isn't producing enough saliva, leading 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 several reasons your body may not be making enough saliva. First, unless you're a midnight snacker, you naturally decrease the amount of food 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 American Dental Association estimates that more than 500 types of medication can contribute to oral dryness. Other causes of dry mouth include:

  • Side effects of different medical conditions and radiation and chemotherapy treatments
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Dehydration
  • Lifestyle habits (chronic users of tobacco, for example)

Signs of Dry Mouth

A dry mouth can be as simple as the salivary glands not producing enough saliva to keep the mouth moist. Saliva is key to washing debris from your teeth and remineralizing tooth enamel. With too little of it, you may be at risk for tooth decay.

Aside from increasing your risk for cavities, a dry mouth can be uncomfortable. If you are experiencing dry mouth at night, some noticeable morning signs are:

  • A sticky feeling in your mouth
  • Thick or stringy saliva
  • Bad breath
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Cracked or chapped lips
  • Mouth sores
  • Changed sense of taste

How to Treat Dry Mouth at Night

If your dry mouth is caused by dehydration, treating it could be as simple as making sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day and before going to bed. Xerostomia caused by medication and other health conditions might need more help to stimulate saliva production, such as:

  • Sipping water frequently
  • Chewing sugar-free gum
  • Using a bedroom humidifier
  • Sucking on sugar-free lozenges

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 develop 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.


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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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