Your mouth is literally watering
If you have a dry mouth, it means that you have too little saliva or that your saliva ratio is not quite right. You have two types of saliva in your mouth:
- Saliva from your oral floor glands; this is thick and sticky saliva
- Saliva from your parotid gland; this is watery saliva
You always have the saliva from your oral floor glands in your mouth. This saliva prevents your tongue from sticking to your palate, it facilitates talking and ensures a healthy bacterial and fungal balance in your mouth. The saliva from your parotid gland is watery. This is the saliva we mean by the expression, ‘My mouth is watering when you smell warm apple pie.
Your digestion starts in your mouth
You make this last form of saliva when you eat and/or drink or smell good food. This saliva makes it easier to swallow your food. It also helps your digestion, because this saliva contains the enzyme ‘amylase’. This enzyme mainly digests carbohydrates in your diet, for example from bread or pasta, but also from vegetables. That is why chewing well is so important for a good start to the digestion of your food.
Normally you produce about a liter of saliva per day in your mouth. If this is less with you, you may experience a dry mouth. This complaint mainly occurs when standing up. This is because our saliva production stops at night. We all have dry mouth from time to time, but what could be the problem if it suddenly worsens significantly for you?
What are possible causes?
Drinking too little in general (addicted to sweets?)
First of all, a dry mouth in the morning can of course be a sign that you have had too little to drink the day before. And I mean water or (herbal) tea or something similar. Or even a few cups of coffee (decaf or not), because the most recent studies show that this does not disturb the 24-hour fluid balance, as was previously thought.
In any case, no alcohol or sweet drinks because they lead to dehydration more quickly. So if you are quite addicted to sweets, you need more fluids. Do you often suffer from a dry mouth and do you just drink enough water in a day, about 1.5 to 2.5 liters and more if you lose extra fluid through sports or warm weather? Then there could be something else going on.
You are getting older and/or are in the menopause
Many menopausal women suffer from dry mouth for a period of time. Due to the fluctuations in the production of the hormone estrogen, which among other things ensures a good mucous membrane function, it is possible that your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva for a while. This is especially noticeable when you get up. What I hear from women, and what I have experienced myself, is that this is temporary and will go away on its own over time. So good news! By the way, a dry mouth does not have to mean that you are in menopause, there could also be something else going on. But being in menopause can mean you’re more sensitive to it.
Suddenly a dry mouth? What are the causes and what can you do?
Sleeping unnoticed with an open mouth (do you like to sleep on your back?)
A dry mouth in the morning can also be caused by sleeping unnoticed at night with an open mouth. This happens more often when you sleep on your back. Due to the slackening of your jaw muscles, it can happen that your lower jaw drops open unnoticed and you start breathing through your mouth. This obviously gives a dry mouth in the morning. If you sleep on your side, this will happen less easily.
The use of medicines (bought at a gas station?)
Do you suddenly suffer from a dry mouth? Have you started taking medication? Medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect. Especially if you use multiple medicines, there is a greater chance that your salivary glands will be inhibited. Keep in mind that not all medicines need to be prescribed by doctors anymore. Some medicines such as antacids or painkillers are sold at the checkout of supermarkets and gas stations. This does not mean that they are drugs without side effects. They can indeed have it. Read the package insert and decide if you really need them.
Smoking is not good anyway. It harms your body and dehydrates, or dries you out, so it can also be the cause of dry mouth. Maybe you’ve smoked for years and never had a problem with it? Then it is possible that your salivary glands are now producing less saliva and you suddenly start to suffer from it. Just like all women who don’t smoke. Think if this isn’t a good time for you to quit. Your body will thank you for it.
You have an autoimmune disease
Autoimmune disease affects the entire body because the immune system sees its own body substances and cells as foreign. Dry mouth due to poor salivation can be a symptom or a consequence of one of these diseases. If you have more complaints than often a dry mouth, visit your doctor. If you have an autoimmune disease, know that a dry mouth can be one of the consequences. Especially if you are a woman over 40. Take a look at the health of your gut, the cause of many autoimmune diseases lies in the gut. By changing your diet, you change your intestinal flora. In my book The Energetic Women’s Nutrition Compass I mention several women who have cured themselves of an autoimmune disease by changing their diet.
Your salivary glands have been affected by radiation or an accident
Radiation to the head and neck area can damage your salivary glands, causing them to function less well and thus to lower saliva production. The same applies to an accident or surgery involving your head and/or neck nerves. You probably know if this applies to you.
Why do women especially suffer from dry mouth?
About 10% of the general population suffer from a dry mouth. Older people in particular also complain about this: 30 to 50% of the over-70s say they regularly suffer from a dry mouth. Research shows that as we get older, we experience less thirst. The question is therefore whether the elderly do not simply drink too little.
But women are also more affected, especially as they get older. In this case, aging as a woman means spot on spot. Unfortunately, it is mainly women who have to deal with autoimmune diseases. Spot on spot on spot, unfortunately. But luckily you can do a lot about it!
What can you do about it; A few tips
- Drink plenty of water. Unfortunately, water does not stick to the mucous membranes and the effect of this in your mouth is gone after half a minute. However, water ensures that your body remains well hydrated and thus helps against the dryness of the mouth.
- Provide humidifiers at home, including in your bedroom. Dry air in the house can be a cause, especially in winter.
- Use a good lip balm. This results in a less dry feeling in the mouth.
- Avoid anything that can dehydrate you such as alcohol and tobacco and especially sugar! Be moderate with coffee/caffeine. Don’t want to miss your daily cup of coffee? Drink a large glass of water before your delicious cup of coffee.
- Be careful with salty and spicy foods. These can easily cause irritation in a dry mouth.
- In phytotherapy, sea buckthorn berry is recommended as a remedy for reduced saliva production. Sea buckthorn berry is available in various forms (dried, oil for internal/external use). If you want to use sea buckthorn as a medicinal product, I recommend that you consult a phytotherapist. They often have more concentrated and therefore more powerful products than those normally available online.
- I’m not really a fan of it, but if it really bothers you, chew sugar-free gum (with xylitol) every now and then. This stimulates saliva production.
- If you’re really at your wits’ end and all of the above doesn’t work, use a ‘ saliva substitute’ temporarily. Such a spray contains saliva-stimulating ingredients and extracts that optimize the oral flora and neutralize bacteria.
In the meantime, take extra care of your teeth
A dry mouth means your mouth is less well protected against bacteria. Plaque also adheres more easily to your teeth, making you more likely to get cavities and gum problems. So brush and floss regularly and use toothpicks, rinse your mouth regularly with coconut oil that kills bacteria for three minutes (then do not swallow but spit out), have the dental plaque removed regularly by a dental hygienist, visit your dentist and of course: avoid sweets! Or did I already say that?