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Cracked lips and dry mouthDry mouth, or xerostomia, is a subjective condition that may be caused by a decrease in saliva production. It is estimated to affect millions of people in the United States, particularly women and the elderly. Current research indicates that approximately one in four adults suffer from dry mouth at night, and this figure increases to 40 percent in populations over the age of 55.

It is not unusual for an adult to experience dry mouth at night, especially because of the lifestyle people have nowadays. It is chronic drying of mouth during the evening which can prove to be bothersome. Alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and too much caffeine are but some factors that can result in drying. The underwhelming production of saliva during this time can even be traced to the medication that a person has been prescribed with. Ultimately, this can give rise to halitosis, mouth sores, swallowing difficulty, sore throat and tooth cavities.

Snoring is thought to be the main cause of dry mouth at night. Constant breathing through the mouth like in snoring can dry up saliva; people who fall asleep with their mouths agape can also experience this in the evening. To address this issue, people who snore are advised to use anti-snoring aids, sleeping on their sides and even practice breathing through their noses. Some are even resort to losing weight.

The role of saliva

Saliva is a vital component of such everyday processes as tasting, swallowing, speech, and digestion. It also helps defend against tooth decay and bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Saliva is over 99 percent water; other components include proteins and electrolytes. These components provide antimicrobial and buffering properties that protect teeth and oral soft tissues, enhance taste, facilitate speech and swallowing, and aid lubrication.

The key to ease drying of mouth at night is to improve saliva production in the evening. Here are some tips to deal with this kind of drying at night:

1.) Chew Ice cubes: Chewing ice cubes or ice chips 30 minutes before nighttime can moisturize the mouth and induce jaw action to activate the salivary glands to produce saliva.
Dry mouth and Ice chewing

2.)Chew sugarless gum: Chewing sugarless gum before bedtime can help with the flow of saliva. Hard, sugar free candies will also do the trick.

3.) Water: Increase the intake of water to 6-8 glasses to keep the mouth moisturized throughout the day. Stay off the sugary drinks.because too much sugar can cause this dry mouth at night

4.) Medication: Drugs can be prescribed to correct faulty salivary glands and improve if not restore their normal function but reduce the risk of dry mouth at night

5.) Diet: Alcoholic beverages and drinks that contain caffeine (coffee, tea, and some soda) should be avoided because they may hasten fluid loss due to frequent urination. Acidic drinks (apple and orange juice) should also be avoided. Those with dry mouth should also shun smoking or chewing tobacco.

Dry mouth…

  • Can cause difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking
  • Can increase your chance of developing dental decay and other infections in the mouth
  • Can be caused by certain medications or medical treatments

Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. So if you think you have dry mouth, see your dentist or physician – there are things you can do to get relief.

Symptoms include:

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
  • A burning feeling in the mouth
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Cracked lips
  • A dry, rough tongue
  • Mouth sores
  • An infection in the mouth

Why is saliva so important?

  • Saliva and dry mouthSaliva does more than keep the mouth wet.
  • It helps digest food It protects teeth from decay
  • It prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth
  • It makes it possible for you to chew and swallow

Without enough saliva you can develop tooth decay or other infections in the mouth. You also might not get the nutrients you need if you cannot chew and swallow certain foods.

Dry Mouth Causes

Saliva is the clear liquid consisting of water, mucus, and enzymes that is produced into the mouth by the salivary glands. It plays a vital role in food digestion and is important in speech, taste, chewing and swallowing. Saliva is also a key component to oral health as it moistens the mouth, stabilizes the level of acid in the mouth and provides protection to gum and teeth. If your mouth is producing little amount of saliva, then you are experiencing Xerostomia or dry mouth.

There are several reasons why saliva depletes. Naturally, the mouth produces less saliva as a person ages and it starts at mid twenties. But this is not the only cause. Smoking and drinking adult beverages containing alcohol like vodka, gin, whiskey and the likes plus alcohol surprisingly found on mouthwash also contributes to mouth desiccation. You must note that alcohol is the most common drying agent.

Lack of saliva may also be a side effect of prescription drugs to treat depression, anxiety, epilepsy, hypertension, psychotic disorders, urinary incontinence and Parkinson’s disease and of non-prescription drugs like antihistamines and decongestants. Certain diseases and infections like HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes, anemia, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, stroke, and mumps also slow down secretion of saliva.

Furthermore, medical treatments like chemotherapy for cancer and radiations to the neck and head damages the salivary glands resulting to a reduced amount of saliva produced.

Adding to those mentioned above, physical body conditions leading up to dehydration can actually cause dryness to your mouth. These include but are not limited to vomiting, diarrhea, blood loss, excessive sweating, high fever and burns.

Dry condition of your mouth may not be a life threatening condition but it gives a feeling of discomfort and uneasiness enough to take the pleasures from your life and may hinder you from showing affection to the love of your life. In other words, the issue of dry mouth and both at night, what causes dry mouth cannot be over emphasized.