Dry mouth is caused by lack of saliva and it is more particular during night. People who breathe through their mouth or engage in snoring during night will not have enough saliva to keep the mouth wet, causing dryness of mouth. It is also called cottonmouth or dough mouth in common terms. In medical terms this condition is called xerostomia. Mainly this condition is caused due to improper function of salivary glands. People with dry mouth will often develop dental problems like oral thrush and infection on their tooth. He may find it difficult to eat anything. Dry mouth is not a disease but is a symptom.
Some of the signs of dry mouth at night are bad breath, dryness on the mouth, cracked lips, inflammation on the lips and oral cavity, taste disorders, repeated fungal infections on the mouth, painful tongue, gum disease, easy tooth decay, problems in speaking and eating anything, sore throat, problem in wearing dentures and sticky saliva.
Dry mouth can be side effect of any medical condition like diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome or Lambert Eaton syndrome. Prolonged use of medications like hypertensive medicines, antihistamines, muscle relaxants and drugs given for treating urinary incontinence can cause dryness of mouth. Antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs can also have the same effect.
Aged people can get dryness of mouth easily. People undergoing cancer treatments like radiation or chemotherapy, using tobacco for long can get this problem. Snoring obstructs the regular air flow into the nose which leads to opening of the mouth. Airway that moves back and front the mouth dries up all the saliva present in the mouth making it dry.
Sleep apnea is another problem that stops breathing for few seconds while you are sleeping. This makes the throat muscles to relax causing obstruction in the regular airway. This in turn causes dryness of the mouth. Drinking water as soon as you wake up will produce saliva like before. Certain drugs given for flu and common cold can cause dryness on the mouth. Stress, anxiety, depression, sleep apnea, untreated diabetes, snoring and Parkinson’s disease can also cause dry mouth.
Role of Saliva :
Saliva is the mucus secreted by salivary gland. It is the liquid that makes us possible to chew and swallow anything we eat. Saliva protects your teeth from decaying. It also checks on bacteria and other micro-organism in the mouth and prevents them from causing infection. Chewing the food is very difficult without saliva.
Your dentist can diagnose dry mouth by simply looking at your mouth. He may request for saliography test and blood test for ruling out any anomalies.
If the problem is due to the intake of certain hypertensive drugs your doctor will prescribe alternate medications. Medications like Salagen and cevimeline are given for stimulating saliva production. Treatment is aimed in increasing the volume of saliva, controlling dental problems, replacing lost secretions and treating infections.
Give attention to proper brushing and flossing technique. You can indulge in sipping fluids like non-carbonated beverages and using chewing gum can increase saliva secretion. Avoid eating sugary items and spicy items and include lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Carrots and celery can be added to your diet which helps in stimulating saliva secretion.