Dry mouth is a very common symptom of pregnancy. That’s in part because you need a lot more water when you’re pregnant, as it helps your baby develop.
But another reason is that your changing hormones can have an effect on your oral health. Besides dry mouth, you may experience gingivitis and loose teeth during pregnancy.
Some conditions during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, can also cause dry mouth.
There are many potential causes for dry mouth during pregnancy. Some of the more common causes include:
Dehydration happens when your body loses water faster than it takes it in. It can be especially dangerous for pregnant women. This is because water helps your baby develop. You need more water when you’re pregnant than when you’re not pregnant.
In severe cases, dehydration during pregnancy can lead to birth defects or premature labor.
Other signs of dehydration include:
- feeling overheated
- dark yellow urine
- extreme thirst
Gestational diabetes occurs only during pregnancy and can cause you to have high blood sugar. It often goes away after you give birth.
You need more insulin than usual during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes happens when your body can’t make that extra insulin.
Gestational diabetes can cause problems for you and your baby, but it can also be managed with proper care. This includes a healthy diet and exercise. You may need medication or insulin.
Many women with gestational diabetes have no symptoms, or only minor symptoms. In this case, it would be detected during a test given to all pregnant women. If you do have symptoms, in addition to dry mouth, they may include:
- excessive thirst
- needing to urinate more often than usual
Thrush is an overgrowth of a fungus called Candida albicans. Everyone has it in small amounts, but it can grow out of normal range if your immune system isn’t working as well as it normally does.
Thrush can cause a dry, cottony feeling in your mouth, in addition to:
- white, cottage cheese-like lesions on your tongue and cheeks that may bleed if scraped
- redness in your mouth
- mouth soreness
- loss of taste
Pregnancy can cause many sleep issues, from not being able to fall asleep to waking up frequently throughout the night. It can also lead to breathing issues, including snoring and sleep apnea.
Snoring is especially common during the second and third trimesters. It is more common if you are overweight, smoke, are sleep-deprived, or have conditions such as enlarged tonsils.
Your changing hormones can also cause your throat and nasal passages to narrow, which can lead to breathing issues.
Snoring and sleep apnea can make you breath with your mouth open while you sleep. This makes it harder to produce saliva and dries out your mouth.
Sleep apnea can be serious. If you snore and find yourself very tired during the day, see a doctor.
Beyond the feeling of dryness, potential symptoms of dry mouth include:
- constant sore throat
- trouble swallowing
- dryness inside your nose
- burning feeling in your throat or mouth
- trouble speaking
- change in sense of taste
- tooth decay
In many cases, home remedies are enough to treat your dry mouth. Home remedies that are safe during pregnancy include:
- Chewing sugar-free gum. This can help encourage your mouth to make more saliva.
- Eating sugar-free hard candy. This also encourages your mouth to make more saliva.
- Drinking lots of water. This will help keep you hydrated and relieve some of your symptoms.
- Sucking on ice chips. This not only gives you fluids and moistens your mouth, but it can also help reduce nausea during pregnancy.
- Using a humidifier at night. This is especially helpful if you’re waking up with a dry mouth.
- Practicing good oral hygiene. Brush and floss regularly to help prevent tooth decay.
- Using a mouthwash specifically made for dry mouth. You can find this at your regular drugstore.
- Skipping coffee. Avoid caffeine as much as possible.
In some cases, you might need treatment from a doctor. Potential clinical treatments include:
- Working with your doctor to change medications that may be making your dry mouth worse.
- Wearing fluoride trays at night to help protect your teeth.
- Treating snoring or sleep apnea if that is causing your dry mouth.
- Treating thrush with antifungal medication if that’s the cause of your dry mouth.
- Setting up a gestational diabetes management plan, including diet, exercise, and medication or insulin if necessary.
If home remedies don’t help your dry mouth, you should see a doctor. They can look for an underlying cause and prescribe treatment if necessary.
You should also see a doctor if you have other symptoms of:
- Thrush: White, cottage cheese-like lesions in your mouth and redness or soreness in your mouth.
- Gestational diabetes: Excessive thirst, fatigue, and the need to urinate more often.
- Tooth decay: A toothache that doesn’t go away, tooth sensitivity, and brown or black spots on your teeth.
- Severe dehydration: Being disoriented, having black or bloody stool, and not being able to keep fluids down.
- Sleep apnea: Daytime fatigue, snoring, and frequent wakening during the night.
Your changing hormones and increased water needs might lead to dry mouth while you’re pregnant. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to relieve this symptom, from increasing how much water you drink to chewing sugar-free gum.
If home remedies don’t relieve your dry mouth, or you have other symptoms of conditions such as gestational diabetes, see your doctor.