Dry Mouth During Pregnancy: Causes & Treatment

Last Updated On: 

April 25, 2018

Every woman who is pregnant, or has gone through pregnancy at some point in her life knows that this is no walk in the park.

There are so many symptoms and physical changes that you have to undergo during these delicate nine months, and a lot of them can be ridiculously uncomfortable.

Having dry mouth during pregnancy is one of the more uncomfortable symptoms that a lot of women find themselves coming up against.

What Is Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth (or xerostomia in medical terms) is exactly what it sounds like; it’s when you feel parching thirst or when the inside of your mouth feels very dry.

This feeling of dryness often does not go away unless large quantities of water are consumed.

Dry mouth during pregnancy can be significantly different then the dry mouth that occurs to individuals who are not pregnant.

Pregnant women describe their cases as moderate to very severe, and some women even have difficulty breathing due to the extreme dryness they experience.

The name may sound relatively harmless, but getting dehydrated to the point of feeling severe dry mouth can be dangerous and should not be overlooked as it can imply an underlying problem.

Symptoms Of Dry Mouth During Pregnancy

According to the National institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, you know you are suffering from dry mouth if you have the following symptoms:

  • A dry tongue
  • A dry or sticky feeling in the mouth
  • Sores in the mouth
  • A tingling sensation in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • A Hoarse throat
  • Excessive thirst

What Causes Dry Mouth?

1) Dehydration

Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of reasons, and the most obvious one is dehydration.

During pregnancy, your body increases its blood volume by almost 50%! Since blood is composed mostly of water; your body is going to need a lot more help to remain hydrated throughout the day.

You know you’re dehydrated when your body starts giving certain warning signals to tell you to consume more water. Dry mouth is one of these warning signals.

During pregnancy, dehydration may not only be caused by an increase in blood production but can also be caused due to increased metabolism.

Growing a little baby inside your body requires a lot of energy, which is one of the reasons why your metabolism increases.

Increased metabolism means increased sweat production, and losing water through your pores will naturally dehydrate you.

How do you know if dehydration is the source of your dry mouth? Here are some common symptoms of dehydration you may feel while being pregnant:

  • Excessively dry mouth
  • Severe headaches
  • Decreased need to urinate
  • Difficulty going to the bathroom or suffering from constipation
  • Feeling thirsty all the time
  • Dizziness throughout the day

Dehydration during pregnancy should not be taken lightly, and if you are experiencing these symptoms then you need to inform your obstetrician immediately.

2) Hormonal Changes

Dry mouth is not only caused by dehydration but may also be caused by the hormonal changes that are occurring in your body.

Studies concerning saliva changes in pregnancy have been conducted and published in leading health journals such as the Medical Express.

These studies indicate that pregnant women do have significantly different saliva than normal.

Though the studies revealed that the saliva of pregnant women is slightly more acidic than ordinary, they did not report any real changes in saliva flow.

The sudden increase of estrogen and progesterone production in your body could be responsible for this, but there is no research that directly connects hormonal changes to dry mouth.

3) Stress And Anxiety

You probably know very well that pregnant women have many reasons to feel stressed and anxious.

Life was already difficult to balance before you became pregnant, and now with all these new symptoms and physical changes, life can seem even more stressful.

Many pregnant women feel anxiety about their body image, the well being of their fetus, and their upcoming birthing experience.

Anxiety can actually cause one’s mouth to dry up because individuals who have anxiety often practice mouth-breathing.

Not only can breathing from your mouth dry your saliva up quickly, but the feeling of panic that comes with anxiety can create dryness as well.

Feeling panicked puts your body in flight mode and causes your brain to instruct all fluids towards more important organs of the body as a defense mechanism.  This can cause saliva production to decrease.

4) Acid Reflux

Acid reflux isn’t just annoying and slightly painful; it can also damage salivary glands and cause one’s mouth to dry out.

One of the first hormones to be produced excessively during your pregnancy is estrogen. This sudden surge of estrogen is what causes your nausea and morning sickness. Estrogen also plays an important role in making muscles relax.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but estrogen can often make the lower esophagi sphincter -which is responsible for blocking stomach acid from moving up your throat -to relax.

When this happens, stomach acid is able to make its way up into the throat and mouth. This acid actually damages salivary glands and can reduce saliva production.

Watch this video for a better idea of how acid reflux occurs during pregnancy.

5) Medication

Sometimes, previous medication or antibiotics can be the cause of your troubles.

Ask your obstetrician if these pills may be the cause of your discomfort and find the best possible alternative.

It is very important to remember that not all medications can be taken during pregnancy.

If you were on antibiotics or other medication before your pregnancy commenced then it is vital that you consult with your doctor on whether you are allowed to continue taking the medication or not.

Why Is Saliva Important For The Body?

Having dry mouth obviously means that you don’t have enough saliva in your mouth to keep it moist and hydrated.

Apart from making you feel ridiculously thirsty, does a lack of saliva cause any other problems?

Saliva plays an essential role in providing minerals such as calcium and phosphorus to your teeth.

Saliva also contains enzymes that help break down food and make it easier to digest.

If you aren’t making enough saliva then your teeth can very easily be affected.

In fact, studies show that if you are pregnant, you are more prone to dental caries because your saliva is more acidic when you are carrying a baby in your belly.

Is Dry Mouth Genetic?

You may be wondering if the cause of your dry mouth is possibly genetic.

Just like hormonal changes, this could very well be the case, but don’t start pointing your fingers at your parents just yet.

There is no direct study that has been conducted to determine whether dry mouth during pregnancy can be linked to genetic changes or not so the answer to this question could easily either be a yes or a no.

If you’re very curious, ask around your family and close relatives.

If many women in the family have experienced the same magnitude of dry mouth as you have then it is very likely that the cause is genetic.

Remember, your family members may just have experienced this condition as well because of their diets, so be sure to take their hydration habits into account!

Is Dry Mouth a Symptom of Gestational Diabetes?

If you start having excessive dry mouth around your second trimester, then you may be experiencing a side effect of gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes usually strikes around the second trimester and causes dry mouth because the body is constantly working to get sugar out of your system.

All excess sugar needs to be urinated out and the more you urinate, the thirstier you will get.

How Common is Dry Mouth?

You can rest assured that this is a very common pregnancy symptom.

There are so many changes during pregnancy and they can all lead to having this condition.

The increased need to urinate, increased blood production, hormonal changes, acid reflux, and anxiety can all contribute to developing a dry mouth.

If you are suffering from a dry mouth and feel like you need to hydrate yourself at all times, then there are a few things you can do to relieve yourself from the discomfort.

What You Can Do For Treatment

Now that you understand the factors that could be causing your dry mouth, let’s look at things that you can do to relieve yourself from this uncomfortable problem.

1) Stay Hydrated

If your dry mouth is being caused by your increased blood volume, then the solution is simple.

You just have to make sure that you are getting an adequate amount of water on a daily basis.

How much water you need depends on your overall size, the climate that you live in, and also how much physical activity you get in a day’s time.

As a general rule, consuming 8-10 glasses on a daily basis should be enough to get rid of that dry feeling in your mouth.

If that’s not enough then feel free to drink as much as you feel you need.

Just keep in mind that your kidneys can filter out about 1 liter of water an hour, so try not to drink more than a liter an hour.

Drinking too much water too fast can cause an imbalance in your cells and can be dangerous to your health.

2) Move Less

If your dry mouth is being caused because you are sweating a lot, then apart from increasing your water intake, you should also consider moving around a little less.

If you are working out then try to cut down on your workout sessions.

Don’t get me wrong, exercise is excellent for you while you are pregnant. Exercising regularly can lead to a smoother delivery and keep you happier through the pregnancy.

However, if you have extreme routines and you are suffering from dry mouth, you should cut back on the amount of strain you put on your body.

If you generally walk long distances, then consider taking the bus or finding another mode of transport instead.

It can be hard to change your schedule and lifestyle to fit the needs of your new pregnant body, but keep reminding yourself that it is only for a few months and you can get back into action when your baby has arrived safely into the world.

Till then, why not make use of a prenatal workout DVD that takes the guesswork out of the equation for you, and ensures you don’t over-exhaust yourself?

3) Relax and De-Stress

If your symptoms are being caused by anxiety then the best thing to do is take some time to just relax and let loose.

Pregnancy can be a very stressful time in your life, especially since most women continue to work and study during these nine months.

However, it is important to take some time out to take a hot bath or read your favorite novel just to bring your anxiety levels down so you can feel normal again.

4) Don’t Indulge in Sweets

Eating a lot of sweets can cause gestational diabetes and cause one to urinate more frequently, which leads to dry mouth.

Eating sweets such as chocolate can also increase the chances of acid reflux, which – in turn – can damage salivary glands.

Apart from eating fewer sweets, avoiding spicy food and eating smaller meals can prevent acid reflux as well.

5) Medical Intervention

Medications such as Salagen and Evoxac are commonly prescribed to people who suffer from dry mouth.

These medications may not be suitable during pregnancy, but asking your obstetrician or even your dentist about them is a good idea, especially if the dryness is becoming unbearable.

There are also artificial sprays and mouthwashes that individuals can use to help get rid of this problem.

Once again, these are great for individuals who are not pregnant, but pregnant women should definitely consult their obstetricians before buying any over the counter product.

Is Dry Mouth Dangerous For the Baby?

As a soon-to-be mother, the first thought that probably came to your mind when you started feeling dry mouth was whether your baby is okay or not.

In most cases, dry mouth usually just means that you need to increase your water intake and adjust your lifestyle slightly to make sure that your body is retaining as much water as possible.

In these cases, dry mouth does not mean anything harmful.

However, if all of this is caused by more serious underlying factors such as extreme dehydration or gestational diabetes, then your baby can be affected.

Women who are dehydrated are more prone to having premature births and even suffer from low milk production after giving birth.

Women with gestational diabetes, on the other hand, have more chances of having assisted births and infants that are far above their normal expected birth weight.

Wrapping Up

Dry mouth is a common symptom during pregnancy and it is usually caused by the need to consume more water.

If keeping yourself hydrated is doing nothing to make things better, then hormonal changes, gestational diabetes or an underlying illness such as anxiety may be the cause.

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