Did You Know?Dry mouth sufferers are at increased risk of dental decay. Hence, apart from brushing twice daily, they need to floss regularly and avoid intake of high sugar foods to keep dental problems at bay.
Dry mouth has been attributed to insufficient production of saliva. The salivary glands keep the mouth moist by secreting clear, watery liquid known as saliva. Inadequate release of saliva may indicate that the salivary glands are not working correctly. Dry mouth is a sensation that many a time occurs at night. People experiencing dry mouth signs at night wake up in the morning with a feeling that they have traveled the desert without water for days.
In this condition, the tongue becomes dry, swollen and red. Saliva also has the ability to naturally stop bacterial growth in the mouth. Therefore, decrease in the amount of saliva can lead to gum diseases, tooth decay and bad breath. People with dry mouth do not experience the correct taste of food, and have metallic taste in the mouth. Their ability to taste food properly decreases considerably.
There are plenty of ways to relieve the uncomfortable sensation of dry mouth. However, it is necessary to first determine the root cause. Medications causing this problem will have to be either discontinued or the doctor may ask to reduce the dosage. Dry mouth during pregnancy can also occur, and is a great nuisance for pregnant women. In general, following are the remedies for this medical problem:
Boost Water Intake
Inadequate water intake makes the saliva thick, which may restrict its flow and cause dry mouth. So, drink water adequately throughout the day to ensure that the saliva is secreted consistently.
There are toothpastes available in the market specially designed to relieve dry mouth. These toothpastes contain ingredients like Biotene that restrict the growth of odor-causing bacteria and prevent formation of plaque. It is clinically proven that these toothpastes can work wonders to combat dryness in mouth.
Chew Crushed Ice
Chewing crushed ice is yet another way to keep the mouth moist for hours. Ice helps to improve secretion of saliva, crucial to get relief from dry mouth. Sucking up sugar-free ice pops or ice candies is also helpful to beat dry mouth syndrome.
Vitamin E Oil
This oil is considered to be the best cure for dry mouth. Break open a vitamin E oil capsule and then spread the oil uniformly on the tongue and inside the mouth before going to bed at night. This way, one can preserve moisture in the mouth. Use of flaxseed and sunflower oil in a similar way can also be helpful to cure this mouth problem occurring at night.
People suffering from dry mouth should avoid salty or spicy foods, as these foods are notorious for worsening the condition. Saliva plays a crucial role in the breakdown of sugar. However, as dry mouth sufferers produce inadequate saliva, they need to avoid high sugar foods and soft drinks. Intake of acidic beverages such as orange juice also have to be avoided.
Tips to Reduce or Prevent Dry Mouth
- Avoid mouth breathing as the constant flow of air in and out of the mouth, dries the tissues of the mouth. So, people who sleep with mouth open are bound to wake up with a dry mouth.
- Shun the habit of drinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages, especially at night as they are natural diuretics. These beverages promote excessive fluid loss through frequent urination. This increases the risk of dehydration and subsequent dry mouth. Moreover alcohol and caffeine act as drying agents, so drinking these beverages may exacerbate symptoms of dry mouth.
- As alcohol causes dryness in mouth, make sure that your mouthwash has zero alcohol content. Mint mouthwashes give a fresh breath but they may worsen this condition. So, make sure these products are not part of your dental care.
- In order to prevent dryness in air, install a humidifier or a vaporizer. These two devices do an excellent job of adding moisture to the air. So, with moist air circulating in your room, there is less chance of suffering from dry mouth.
- Use of saliva substitutes that are available in the form of spray or oral solution can also be helpful to decrease dryness in mouth.
Dry Mouth at Night While Sleeping
Many people suffer from dry mouth syndrome while asleep. These people tend to wake up with a parched throat, due to excessive dry mouth. This has often been attributed to breathing through mouth during sleep. In order to get immediate relief, drinking water in the middle of the night remains the only option. Excessive or loud snoring while sleeping can also cause mouth dryness.
Smoking has been linked to increased incidence of the dry mouth condition. Smoking negatively affects the production of saliva which can cause dry mouth symptoms at night. Chewing of tobacco in any form can also make the mouth dry.
Studies have revealed that certain diseases can significantly reduce the release of saliva in the mouth. These illnesses listed below hamper the ability of salivary glands to produce saliva in adequate amounts.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Parkinson's Disease
This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system severely damages the exocrine glands that help to maintain moisture in the mouth and eyes. Exocrine glands located in the eyes and mouth secrete tears and saliva respectively. Hence any damage to these glands is bound to cause dry mouth and dry eyes.
Mouth becoming dry at night can also occur as a side effect of certain medicines. It has been estimated that 400 prescription as well as non-prescription drugs can give rise to dry mouth condition. However, particularly medicines used to treat health problems like diarrhea, asthma, hypertension and cold, can also interfere with saliva production. Millions of people today use beta-blockers and diuretics which can also reduce saliva production, eventually causing dryness in mouth. Other medications that are found to negatively affect the functioning of salivary glands are as follows:
- Muscle relaxants
With increase in age, the likelihood of suffering from dry mouth also increases. This is because, with age, the capacity of salivary glands to work efficiently also diminishes. But aging is not the only factor that causes dry mouth. Many a time, older people are taking medications that can be one of the dry mouth reasons. Also, older people suffer from a host of ailments that can result into dry mouth.
An injury or a trauma such as an accident that inflicts damage to the head or neck can trigger the dry mouth condition. This is because such injuries often impair the functioning of the parotid gland which controls the working of salivary glands. This causes glandular dysfunction which results into reduced production of saliva.
Salivary Gland Stones
When salivary glands are itself blocked due to formation of stones, the saliva is unable to enter the mouth. Basically, the salivary glands are found below the jaw, in the cheeks and the front of the ears. The saliva from the salivary gland passes down to the salivary duct (tubes that connect the salivary gland to the mouth) and eventually reaches the mouth. Thus, the ducts help to empty the salivary gland but if stones (mineral deposits) develop in the salivary duct, flow of saliva gets obstructed. Thus, the salivary gland or salivary duct stones that are usually made up of calcium can also cause dry mouth. Pain and swelling in the area where the salivary gland is located, is one of the most common symptoms of large salivary gland stones. A physical injury that damages the salivary gland and intake of medications that regulate blood pressure are some of the factors responsible for causing salivary gland stones.
Chemotherapy drugs used in the treatment of cancer can also contribute to dry mouth. Basically, these drugs can cause malfunctioning of the salivary glands as well as impair healthy cells present in the mouth. This will result in less production of saliva. Radiation therapy that specifically targets the head or neck can also impair the functionality of salivary glands and cause dry mouth.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.