Top 5 Solutions for a Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where people typically suffer with a dry mouth. Most commonly, this occurs when waking in the morning. It can be particularly unpleasant. My wife used to say “my mouth feels as dry as Gandhi’s flip flop” after a particularly salty take-away.

Often there is a decrease in saliva production or a change in saliva consistency, leading to a feeling of dryness in the mouth. Saliva is crucial for maintaining oral health, aiding in digestion, and helping to prevent infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth.

What Is Dry Mouth?

Many people suffer from dry mouth, or Xerostomia (pronounced "xero-ro-stoh-me-a") and exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:

  • The need to moisten their mouth frequently.

  • Mouth is dry at waking in the morning.

  • Less saliva is present than before.

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Trouble eating foods such as crackers or toast.

Some cases of dry mouth are caused by the failure of the salivary glands to function normally. However, in some people dry mouth occurs even though their salivary glands are normal. Although dry mouth is not a disease itself, it can be a symptom of certain diseases. Dry mouth is also a common side effect of some prescription and over-the-counter medications and medical treatments.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

1) Certain Medications

Over 400 commonly used drugs can cause the sensation of dry mouth. The main culprits are medications for high blood pressure and antidepressants. Pain killers, tranquilizers, decongestants, diuretics and over the counter antihistamines can also decrease saliva. The first thing you need to check is, are you taking the right levels of medication, and are there any that you don’t require or you can reduce? Remember to consult your doctor before making changes to prescribed medications.

2) Mouth Breathing

Ideally, people should breathe in and out through their nose. This has shown to be categorically superior and better for health than breathing through the mouth. However, many people get congested, bunged up, and a stuffy nose. This congestion impairs breathing through the nose and the body will switch to mouth breathing. This commonly happens at night if people are congested, and you’ll know it if you are told you are snoring. Mucus builds up from allergies is another possibility, and some people suggest that dairy can contribute to mucus build up. Injuries to the nose can cause issues too.

Solution: reduce congestion in the nose through improving your diet or using a saline nasal spray. Address narrowing of the nose (following trauma) by consulting with a consultant. Taping the mouth with some surgical tape can help too, as can sipping water.

3) Alcohol

Reduce or stop alcohol. It is common that people who drink a lot of alcohol on a binge will snore that night. Alcohol causes congestion and disrupts sleep, and promotes mouth breathing. It can also cause swelling of the blood vessels in the nose. This can all lead to a particularly dry mouth the following morning and day. Alcohol also dehydrates, removing water from your body, and causing dryness. Reduce alcohol, drink in moderation, or better still avoid it completely. Drink spring water instead.

4) Nutrition

Ever notice that you eat a Chinese takeaway and feel like you have a rough mouth the next morning? This is a good example of how nutrition can affect your dry mouth. Particularly salty foods like crisps right before bed can also be an issue. High sugar foods can be a problem too. Salty sauces with pasta can be a problem. Improve your diet. Reduce carbs. Reduce processed food. Reduce bad salt (good quality organic sea salt is fine by the way, in moderation). Eat a varied diet. Keep a glass of good quality water by your bed at night. And never ever drink energy drinks. Really, don’t skip over this, improve your diet and you’ll get less “mouth like Gandhi’s flip flop”.

5) Improve your Immune System

Get a stronger immune system by losing weight (this can also help with sleeping, and reducing mouth breathing). Drink plenty of water. Get outside, with nature, and get some vitamin D to improve your immune health. Seek resolution from anxiety and stress, improve your mental health. If you have a healthy strong immune system, you’ll get over coughs and colds quicker. You’ll breathe better, and you’ll get less dryness and congestion.

We are a physiotherapy and osteopathy group of clinics in London and South-East England. This article may not be best suited for the things we normally treat (joint pains, back pain, shoulder pain etc). But we just wanted to share this self-help page so hopefully it can help you.