Learn About Dry Mouth
Dry mouth, also called xerostemia, is a sticky, cottony sensation in your mouth stemming from a lack of saliva. We can help you understand what’s causing your dry mouth and find solutions to improve your oral health.
What is dry mouth?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is pretty much just what it sounds like. If you’ve experienced your mouth feeling excessively dry (where you can’t seem to make enough saliva to keep it moistened), you’re likely familiar with dry mouth. It can make talking or swallowing a challenge, and your mouth will probably feel sticky. You might also notice that the saliva you do produce feels thick and stringy. Dry mouth isn’t just a matter of discomfort or inconvenience — it can also lead to health issues such as tooth decay and gingivitis, as well as bad breath.
If you’re wondering, “What is cottonmouth?” the answer is no different; it’s just another name for the same issue.
What causes dry mouth?
Now that you know what it is, you might want to know what can cause dry mouth. As it turns out, there’s a long list of potential causes.
- Certain foods and drinks (especially those high in acidity, sugar, and caffeine, as well as alcohol)
- The flu
- Medications (more than 400 prescription and over-the-counter medications have dry mouth as a known side effect)
- Diseases and medical conditions
- Nerve damage
- Radiation treatment (which can damage the salivary glands, leading to temporary or total saliva loss)
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Recreational drug use
While it’s possible to experience dry mouth at any time, some people find they mostly have dry mouth overnight, which can interfere with sleep. When it comes to what causes dry mouth at night, there are a few additional reasons, such as:
- Breathing through the mouth while sleeping
- Use of a CPAP mask for sleep apnea
- Wearing dentures and retainers
- A deviated septum
How do you get rid of dry mouth?
Regardless of what causes it, what you probably really want to know is how to get rid of dry mouth. While there’s no permanent way to cure dry mouth, it is possible to help treat the symptoms. To help get rid of cottonmouth or dry mouth — or at least reduce the symptoms — consider trying some of the following DIY remedies.
- Reduce your caffeine intake.
- Drink more water.
- Don’t smoke tobacco or cannabis products.
- Limit or avoid alcohol.
- Look at your medications’ side effects and, if necessary and possible, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
- Try a sugar-free gum, mint (such as SmartMouth Dry Mouth Dual Action Mints), or candy made with xylitol.
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash specifically designed to help relieve symptoms and discomfort of dry mouth (such as SmartMouth Dry Mouth Activated Mouthwash).
- Steer clear of salty and spicy foods.
Find yourself asking, “Why do I wake up with a dry mouth?” The previous suggestions apply in this case, too. You can also try the following tips to prevent dry mouth while sleeping.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom while you sleep.
- Try sleeping on your back with your head elevated so your airways stay open.
Try a saline nasal mist or spray if your nose feels stuffy.
What is xerostomia?
While you may be familiar with the terms “dry mouth” and “cottonmouth,” you could be a bit thrown by the word “xerostomia” — and you wouldn’t be alone. Although it sounds imposing, xerostomia is simply the clinical term for dry mouth. When it comes to managing xerostomia, the same techniques you’d use for dry mouth apply.
What medications cause dry mouth?
It may feel like the medications that don’t cause dry mouth would be easier to list than the ones that do. After all, more than 400 prescription and over-the-counter medications include dry mouth as a known side effect. If you experience dry mouth and use any medications at all, you may want to look into the side effects listed.
That being said, some types of medications are more likely to cause this problem than others. Sedatives and muscle relaxants often cause dry mouth, as do many drugs used to treat the following issues.
- Colds and allergies (antihistamines and decongestants)
- Hypertension (diuretics)
- Psychotic disorders
- Urinary incontinence
- Asthma (certain bronchodilators)
- Parkinson’s disease
Sometimes, a medication is used only occasionally or temporarily, in which case it may be possible to simply deal with the unpleasantness until you no longer need the medication. However, if you’re on a long-term treatment plan, you probably want to know how to help dry mouth caused by medication. Fortunately, no matter what the cause of your dry mouth, you can follow the same tips listed above.
Can dry mouth cause cavities?
Dry mouth or xerostomia is a dryness in the mouth, often associated with a change or reduction in salivary flow.The saliva in our mouth helps to wash away food debris and reduce plaque. When dry mouth occurs it can cause cavities and tooth decay. That’s why it’s always helpful to rinse with SmartMouth Dry Mouth twice a day.
Can dry mouth be cured?
The symptoms of dry mouth can be reduced, if not eliminated, by rinsing with SmartMouth Dry Mouth Oral Rinse twice a day.
How to prevent dry mouth while sleeping?
Saliva is important to maintain the health of your teeth and mouth. If you frequently have a dry mouth when you sleep or when you wake up in the morning, try rinsing with SmartMouth Dry Mouth or chew SmartMouth Dry Mouth Relief Mints.