Is Dry Mouth a Symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Meet the Author: Sara Juliano, RDH
I have been a registered dental hygienist for over a decade. I have had the pleasure of working with amazing patients and educating them on their oral health throughout my career. Recently, I made the conscious decision to branch out within the dental field, choosing to maintain my dental hygiene license, and become a dental educator. With a passion for oral and systemic health, I have seen clinically the direct impact systemic health can have on oral health. I will be extending my knowledge outside of the dental chair into the world and make an impact on the lives of others. Learn more about Sara, here.
Meet the Author: Sara Juliano, RDH
I have been a registered dental hygienist for over a decade. With a passion for oral and systemic health, I have seen clinically the direct impact systemic health can have on oral health. I will be extending my knowledge outside of the dental chair into the world and make an impact on the lives of others. Learn more about Sara, here.
Dry Mouth can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Waking up with dry mouth is an indication that you may be suffering from sleep apnea. If you notice that your dry mouth symptoms are consistent for several days, and you are frequently feeling fatigued throughout the day, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. If your symptoms persist, speak to your physician about having a sleep study. Now, let’s dive in deeper into the correlation between Dry Mouth and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a chronic sleep disorder where sleep is compromised due to an obstructed airway. Sleep apnea can significantly reduce blood oxygen levels to the brain. Blood oxygen supply is critically important for the brain to function, nourish, and repair the body during the sleep cycles to maintain proper systemic health. Sleep apnea can be very severe and even life threatening. There are two major types of sleep apnea:
Central Sleep Apnea
Central Sleep Apnea is a disorder where your breathing stops and starts repeatedly throughout the sleeping cycle. Central Sleep Apnea originates in the brain, where there is a sensory signaling disconnect or defect, where the brain does not send signals to the muscles that are responsible for breathing. Central Sleep Apnea is the least common form of sleep apnea and can result from heart attacks and strokes. Central Sleep Apnea can also be affected by sleeping at high altitudes.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is caused by the relaxing of muscles in the back of the throat. This relaxation causes airways to narrow, making it more difficult to breathe. This is related to an anatomical obstruction to the airway, and can obstruct air flow, causing blood oxygen levels to decrease to all other areas of the body.
Contributing Factors to Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
- Large tongue- this can be identified clinically by scalloped bilateral borders of the tongue
- Large uvula
- Narrow vaulted palate
- Large bilateral tonsils
- Narrow soft palate
- Large Jaws
- Familial (genetic)
These obstructions can create barriers to oxygen flow in and around the oral cavity. In severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea, these obstructions can cause the air way to collapse, which can significantly decrease blood oxygen levels. Awareness on sleep apnea and proper treatment is critically important for those suffering with this disorder.
Blood Oxygen Levels & the Sleep Cycle:
When healthy blood oxygen levels and normal sleep patterns exist, the body can adequately repair all vital organs, detoxify the system, and maintain proper balance for healthy organ function. Blood oxygen supply to the brain during the sleep cycle is essential for the removal of plaque accumulation in the prefrontal cortex. Plaque build-up in the brain increases the risk for Alzheimer’s and Dementia to develop.
If the body is already immunocompromised from other systemic health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, COPD, or any autoimmune diseases, lack of oxygen supply to the brain during sleep restoration may magnify the progression of the disease state.
Warning Signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:
There are multiple warning signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. These warning signs include:
- Large tongue, which relaxes while sleeping, can close off the airway
- Scalloped tongue
- Narrow or vaulted palate
- Large uvula
- Large tonsils
- Grinding the teeth and occlusal wear
- Acid reflux is a contributing factor to sleep apnea due to back flow from acid in stomach
- Mouth breathing can cause swelling or tenderness on the roof of your mouth
- Consistently waking up with dry mouth
- Distressful breathing while sleeping/laying on your back (wheezing, shortness of breath or gurgling)
- Waking up gasping for air in the middle of the night
If you are showing any of the signs listed above, ask yourself if you are tired during the day and if you feel rested when you wake up in the morning. Most people suffering with undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea will say “no” to these two questions. At this point, it is important to speak to your physician about having a sleep study done. With proper testing, a definitive diagnosis can be made, and necessary treatment and therapies can be provided, that can improve the quality of life of those suffering from sleep apnea.
Dry Mouth as a Symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Dry mouth is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea which occurs mostly in the morning. This is because people struggling to breathe at night will naturally become mouth breathers. When we sleep, our jaw and facial muscles relax and naturally your mouth slides open. The greater the obstructions, the more your mouth will open to try to get more air in. This decreases the moisture and salivary flow in the oral cavity. People who snore or have sleep apnea need to make sure they find oral products that will help alleviate their dry mouth and keep the oral cavity moist. Healthy salivary flow is essential in maintaining optimal oral health and decreasing the risk of mouth disorders, such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, cavity formation, and more.
CPAP & Dry Mouth
People who have been previously diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and are wearing a CPAP machine are also prone to having a dry mouth. Many CPAP machines do not fit adequately around the mouth and face, leaving areas for air leakage. If you suffer from dry mouth in the morning, and are CPAP tolerant, speak to your doctor about a possible bifurcated facial mask or a full-face mask that will better suite your needs. It is essential to ensure you are receiving proper oxygen titration, maintaining proper sleep hygiene, and having moisture in the mouth during sleep restoration. Not only does your body need to repair itself at night, so does your mouth. A proper fitted mask will increase repair during sleep restoration, and create a comfortable environment for those suffering from sleep apnea, both systemically and orally.
If dry mouth persists even with the use of a CPAP machine, you can use a long-lasting dry mouth product such as Lubricity, before going to bed and as soon as you wake up. This will retain moisture in your mouth at night and replenish moisture back into the oral cavity in the morning.
An Alternative to CPAP
A mandibular advancement device is for those who have been diagnosed with mild to moderate forms of sleep apnea and recommend to people that cannot tolerate the c-pap machine. The purpose of this oral appliance is to slightly titrate the mandible (lower jaw) forward and create an opening in the airway to ensure proper oxygen supply is being provided to the patient. This oral appliance may also increase the risk for dry mouth in the morning. It’s best to use a Lubricity Dry Mouth Spray that will create a long-lasting lubricating feel in the mouth.
What is Lubricity?
Lubricity is an odorless, flavorless, and colorless spray that is perfect for people who are overly sensitive to taste. Our Dry Mouth Spray also has Zero Calories, NO Gluten, NO Alcohol, NO Sugar, and is Vegan-Friendly!
Lubricity Dry Mouth Spray has 5 simple ingredients: Hyaluronic Acid, Xylitol, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate and Purified Water. This simple formula is clinically proven to alleviate your dry mouth symptoms for up to 4 hours.
How to use Lubricity?
Lubricity Dry Mouth Spray comes in a convenient 0.5 oz and 2oz spray bottle. Simply point and spray 3-5 times per use. When used as directed, Lubricity provides up to 4 hours of relief from dry mouth symptoms.
For best results, we recommend using Lubricity Dry Mouth Spray as follows:
Use Lubricity after a meal and before bed. If needed, Lubricity can be used more than 4 times per day. *Some may need 3-5 pumps per use, as the bottle needs to be primed upon opening. Relief from symptoms begins immediately. Maximum effectiveness is achieved after 72 hours of continued use.
Important: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your physician before using Lubricity. DO not use Lubricity if you are taking any medications that are contraindicated with the product. Please consult with your physician if you have any concerns regarding the use of this product. Keep out of reach of children.