The medical term for dry mouth is “xerostomia”. Xerostomia can be an uncomfortable condition that can affect a person’s sense of taste and can increase their risk of developing tooth decay.
Some people may experience dry mouth at night. This may be due to natural variations in the amount of saliva the body produces, but certain medical conditions can also cause it.
This article describes the various causes of dry mouth at night and their associated treatment options. It also provides a list of home remedies for dry mouth.
Causes of dry mouth at night
The following are some potential causes of dry mouth at night. Natural variation in saliva production. According to an article in Compendium magazine, a person’s salivary glands generally produce less saliva at night. As a result, some people may find that their mouths feel drier at night.
A doctor may prescribe special mouthwashes that can moisten the mouth and reduce dry mouth sensations before going to bed. People should also consider keeping a glass of water by their bedside. If a person wakes up with a dry mouth, drinking a little water will help moisten the mouth.
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, an estimated 20% of older adults struggle with dry mouth. In older adults, this condition usually occurs as a result of dehydration or as a side effect of certain medications.
Older adults who wear dentures may find that they no longer fit properly as a result of dry mouth. Without adequate saliva, dentures can rub on the gums and cause painful staining.
A person experiencing dry mouth should visit their doctor or dentist, who will help determine the cause of the condition. If dry mouth is due to medications a person takes, the doctor or dentist may recommend changing the dose or switching to a different medication.
In some cases, people may be given medications to improve salivary gland function.
2- Side effects of medication
The US Department of Health and Human Services states that more than 400 medications can reduce the body’s ability to produce saliva. People who take their medications at night may notice that their dry mouth symptoms are worse at night.
Some medications that can cause dry mouth include:
- Medicines to lower blood pressure or antihypertensives
- Some medicines used to control Parkinson’s disease
- Radiation therapy
A person should consult their doctor if they suspect that their medication is causing dry mouth. However, people should not stop taking their medications unless they have their doctor’s approval to do so. A doctor may suggest reducing the dose of the drug or taking the drug earlier in the day. Sometimes a doctor may suggest switching to a different drug that doesn’t cause dry mouth.
The doctor may also recommend the following:
- Take medicine with plenty of water
- Drink water at night
- Chewing gum to promote saliva production
- Using a humidifier to release moisture into the air and relieve dry mouth sensations
3- Mouth breathing
Some people wake up during the night to find that their mouth is extremely dry. This may be a sign that they have been breathing through their mouths while sleeping. Some possible causes of this behavior include:
- A narrowing or blockage of the nasal passages
- An acute illness, such as an upper respiratory infection or a cold
- Abstructive sleep apnea, which can lead to repeated episodes of gasping, snorting, or snoring
Treatment for nocturnal mouth breathing depends on the underlying cause. We describe the possible causes and their associated treatment options below.
Antibiotics can help treat a bacterial infection, while decongestants can help ease any associated sinus congestion.
Antihistamines can help treat allergies, while corticosteroids can also help relieve associated inflammation and nasal congestion.
3- Sleep apnea
People experiencing sleep apnea may require a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. CPAP is a mask that is worn over the mouth or nose and blows air into the airways to keep them open during sleep.
Although treatment is effective against sleep apnea, the constant flow of air can make dry mouth symptoms worse. A person should talk to their doctor or dentist who can adjust the mask or recommend a machine that does not dry the mouth.