Temperatures are still warm right now, but fall…
Saliva is one of those things that you don’t really think about until you need it. When you wake up in the middle of the night parched and coughing from a dry mouth, however, saliva is pretty much immediately on your mind. In fact, saliva does a lot for us. It helps to break down food, and it’s your mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria that can cause tooth decay and other oral health problems.
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is, quite simply, what happens when your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva. Besides opening you up to increased risk of tooth decay, dry mouth can cause some problems that you might not expect, including difficulty tasting foods, chewing, swallowing, and even speaking. On top of all that, dry mouth can also have a big impact on the quality and quantity of sleep that you get in a night.
If you suffer from dry mouth, especially during the night, you’re far from alone. Although the number of Americans who experience persistent dry mouth is difficult to estimate, as many as 20% or more of adults have some type of dry mouth. Not sure if you’re among their number? Some symptoms are obvious, such as feeling thirsty and experiencing a dry mouth. Other signs can include chapped lips, bad breath, and a burning or tingling sensation in your mouth or tongue.
What causes dry mouth? There are lots of possibilities, from simple dehydration to the side effects of some medications. However, a number of lifestyle choices can help reduce your risk of dry mouth. Here are a few recommendations that may prevent dry mouth at night and help you get some better sleep:
During the Day:
- Chew sugar-free gum (with xylitol) to help stimulate saliva production.
- Drink water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
- Avoid certain types of food and drink that can exacerbate dry mouth. These include foods that are too spicy or high in acid and drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine. Enjoy these drinks in moderation, especially in the evening.
Just Before Bed:
- Use a fluoride toothpaste when you brush your teeth.
- Consider investing in mouthwashes or rinses designed specifically for dry mouth.
- Use an artificial saliva product. These may not sound very appealing, but they can help. They’re available both over the counter or as prescribed by your doctor or your Kansas City family dentist.
- Try a saline nasal spray right before bedtime.
During the Night:
- Keep a glass of water on your nightstand and take a drink when you wake up.
- Use a humidifier to keep the air in your room at a comfortable level of humidity.
All the Time:
- Quit smoking and using other tobacco products. There are lots of reasons to quit, and one is that smoking can worsen dry mouth symptoms.
- Keep up with your good oral hygiene habits, which include brushing twice a day, flossing every day, and using a mouthwash or rinse. Continue to make regular visits to your family dentist in Kansas City.
Help from the Pros:
- If you’re experiencing persistent dry mouth symptoms, talk to your doctor and your dentist. A sleep specialist might be able to help address issues with snoring or breathing through your mouth at night, while your doctor may be able to suggest alternative medications to those that may be causing dry mouth.
Regardless of whether you’ve been struggling with persistent dry mouth for a while, are concerned that it may be having an unknown effect on your quality of sleep, or simply have questions, you should talk to your doctor or dentist, especially before making any changes in medication on your own. A doctor or dentist can help suggest the course of action that’s best for your specific situation.
At Blacker Family Dental in Kansas City, we’re not just your friendly neighborhood dentist. Dr. Blacker is also a sleep specialist who can help diagnose and treat the causes of sleep disturbances so you can enjoy your best night’s sleep. Just call (816) 763-8400 to learn more or click here to schedule an appointment today!