As we treat dozens of patients at our family dentistry in Houston, one of the most common questions we receive from patients is how they can prevent dry mouth while sleeping. Waking up with a dry mouth that feels like it’s full of cotton can be quite unpleasant. Indeed, it can even ruin an otherwise great morning after a restful night’s sleep.

In this post, we’ll explain why your mouth dries out when you sleep, and we’ll discuss 11 tips from our top experts at Hermosa Dental to help you solve the problem.

Explaining the Reasons for Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is quite a common condition, and it’s due to a lack of saliva production in your mouth. You have some conscious control over saliva production when you’re awake, so you can sense your mouth drying and have a cup of water to stay hydrated. However, when you’re asleep, the worst symptoms of dry mouth can show up.

Now, of course, saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth hydrated, but it does more than just that. Saliva also keeps the pH inside your oral cavity balanced, which means that it prevents it from becoming too acidic. This helps keep bacteria populations inside the mouth under control. In the absence of saliva, though, bacteria have the perfect conditions to multiply, create acidic waste, and cause tooth decay and other dental problems. In addition, all of the soft tissues in the mouth that rely on hydration provided by saliva start to dry out.

Symptoms of Dry Mouth While Sleeping

You might notice the following symptoms if you’re experiencing dry mouth at night:

  • Bad breath in the morning that may last throughout the day
  • Feeling very thirsty when you wake up
  • Waking up frequently to get a drink of water during the night
  • Dry, scratchy throat
  • Difficulty taking a full breath
  • Dry, cracked, or chapped lips
  • A thick or sticky build-up of saliva in the mouth, especially on the tongue

It’s important to understand, though, that if you’re only experiencing dry mouth when you sleep, there is likely another cause involved. Breathing through your mouth when you sleep can dry out the soft tissues of the mouth very quickly. You’re naturally supposed to breathe through your nose when you sleep, but anything from a blocked nose because of allergies to anatomical deficiencies can lead you to breathe too much through your mouth.

How To Prevent Dry Mouth While Sleeping

Fortunately, there are several techniques you can use to prevent a dry mouth before you sleep. Our best dentist in Houston recommends the following methods for how to prevent dry mouth while sleeping:

  1. Brush your teeth before bed. Ensuring that you’re taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums is important, yet most people don’t brush twice a day. It’s excellent practice to clean out the food residue of the day before you go to sleep, which will keep your mouth clean and free of build-up while you sleep.
  2. Stay hydrated. Saliva is mostly water, and your salivary glands need water to be able to produce it. Experts recommend drinking about 2.5 liters of water every day, increasing intake if you live in a hot climate or engage in athletic activities. Don’t just drink when you’re thirsty. Sip on water throughout the day so it can assimilate into the body, rather than just being flushed out by the kidneys.
  3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it increases water output in urine. That means that drinking alcohol in the evening is likely to dehydrate your body, increasing the likelihood of a dry mouth. Caffeine also has mild diuretic effects, so avoiding both later in the day is your best bet. It’ll also improve your sleep quality.
  4. Limit your salt intake. Eating salty foods can lead to excess sodium in the body, which requires the kidneys to work overtime to neutralize it, pulling water out of cells and leading to dehydration.
  5. Avoid spicy and acidic foods. They increase the rate at which your body loses water, leading to dehydration.
  6. Quit smoking. Smoking is well-known to release toxic chemicals that interfere with normal bodily processes, and your oral cavity is exposed to them all. Decreasing your smoking or quitting entirely will prevent the dehydrating effects it has on your body.
  7. Use nasal strips. Available at any pharmacy, nasal strips gently hold your nostrils open while you sleep. Evidence suggests that they may be effective at discouraging mouth breathing.
  8. Use a humidifier. Many people experience an increase in dry mouth when the weather turns dry, and there’s less moisture in the air. Using a humidifier in your bedroom will moisten the air, minimizing how much your mouth dries up at night. If you use a CPAP/BiPAP machine, adding a humidifier to it can make your night much more comfortable.
  9. Use sugar-free chewing gum. Chewing sugar-free gum can help promote saliva production.
  10. Use synthetic saliva. Artificial saliva is available in an oral gel, rinse or spray, and can be used to moisten the mouth before you head to bed. It can relieve symptoms of dry mouth.
  11. Check your medications. If you take any medications regularly, check to see if they mention dry mouth as a side effect. Talk to your doctor about changing the medication if possible.

Conclusion

Following the tips we’ve mentioned above can lead to a significant improvement in your symptoms. But if you’re still struggling to prevent dry mouth while sleeping, you should contact an experienced dental professional. They can help you determine why it’s happening and recommend the best treatment.

With over 13 years of combined experience, Hermosa Dental uses the most advanced technology to perform safe and comfortable dental procedures for all of our patients. We’re open on weekends and offer convenient and affordable appointments. If you have any questions or concerns, we’d be happy to help – see why we’re the best dentist in Houston! Call us at (713) 695-3400 for our East Little York location, (832) 427-1797 for our Highway 6 location, or (281) 747-7004 for our Porter location.