Dry mouth (xerostomia) might seem like a minor annoyance. However, if it occurs regularly, it needs to be treated.

Left untreated, a dry mouth can affect a variety of things, including eating, speaking, and your general oral health.

Saliva is necessary for tooth and gum health, and enzymes in saliva aid in digestion. If your mouth is dry throughout the night, your oral health might be affected without your even knowing it.

Symptoms of persistent dry mouth at night can include:

If there isn’t enough saliva, plaque in the mouth as well as thrush and mouth sores can develop.

Dry mouth at night can be very common, especially in older adults. This is because saliva changes as you age. Some components of saliva decrease as you get older, according to research such as a 2014 study and a 2021 study.

If you only notice dry mouth at night, the cause might be a nasal obstruction that forces you to breathe through your mouth only.

Many medications can also cause dry mouth or make the problem worse. The American Academy of Oral Medicine states that over 1,100 prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can potentially cause dry mouth.

According to a 2015 review of studies, of the 100 most prescribed medications in the United States, over 80 percent cause this issue.

Medications with dry mouth as a side effect include:

Other causes can include:

Here are some things you can do at home to help treat dry mouth at night:

  • Sip water throughout the day and avoid eating too many salty foods, especially at night.
  • Keep a glass of water next to your bed in case you wake up at night and your mouth is dry.
  • Monitor your caffeine intake and, if necessary, reduce your caffeine consumption. Caffeine can make dry mouth worse.
  • Use a humidifier in your room at night to help keep moisture in the air.
  • Try to consciously breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
  • Try chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy.
  • Consider products such as dry mouth toothpaste, artificial saliva, or saliva-stimulating lozenges. A doctor may prescribe them, and they’re available over the counter, too.
  • Avoid using mouthwash that contains alcohol, since this can be drying. Opt for alcohol-free mouthwash instead.
  • Try to avoid OTC antihistamines or decongestants, which can dry out your mouth.
  • Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco.

Home remedies for dry mouth relief

Check out our recommendations for the best humidifiers and mouthwash.

The medical treatments you take will depend on the underlying cause of the dry mouth, so treatment will vary from person to person.

If your dry mouth at night is caused by medications, and home remedies aren’t helping, a doctor might want to switch your medications or adjust the dosage.

A doctor or dentist might prescribe certain medications that help your body produce saliva. In certain cases, they may fit you with fluoride trays to wear at night to help prevent cavities.

If your dry mouth is due to a nasal problem such as a severely deviated septum that causes you to sleep with your mouth open in order to breathe, the doctor might suggest surgery.

The septoplasty is a commonly performed procedure that corrects a deviated septum. Symptoms related to nasal obstruction from a deviated septum typically resolve after surgery.

If you’re experiencing dry mouth at night, it’s worth discussing with a doctor or dentist, especially if:

Dry mouth at night can be annoying, uncomfortable, and even harmful to your oral health. It’s important to treat the cause of your dry mouth so you can maintain your oral health.

Many cases can be treated with changes to your lifestyle and medications. Less frequently, dry mouth at night may be a symptom of an underlying condition, which will require specific treatment.