Are you pregnant and waking up parched, a million times a night? Is your unquenchable thirst starting to drive you crazy?
Your body is going through so many changes right now, and you have new symptoms to go with it.
In this article, we discuss why good oral hygiene is important during pregnancy, why dry mouth during pregnancy happens, and best ways to relieve this condition.
What’s Causing My Dry Mouth During Pregnancy?
Here are five reasons for this issue during pregnancy.
Something as simple as not drinking enough water or dehydration could be the culprit. Your body is working harder than it ever has, to nourish your baby. So, your metabolic rate speeds up, increasing your caloric and fluid needs. The water you consume helps deliver all the essential nutrients to your placenta and can increase your energy and aid with digestion.
2. Hormonal Changes
Especially if you’re still in the first trimester, these can cause a reduction in saliva, creating your dry mouth.
3. Increased Blood Production
Pregnant women have as much as 50 percent more blood flowing through them, to reach the placenta and meet the needs of the baby (1). So, to keep blood volume high, the body may retain water during pregnancy, and this may cause dry mouth.
Because your blood volume is higher in pregnancy, it is necessary to keep up your fluid intake. This fact alone can contribute greatly to dry mouth, especially as the blood volume is increasing in early pregnancy. An additional 1-2 cups of water a day will help keep you hydrated.
4. Gestational Diabetes
Gestational diabetes is abnormally high glucose levels in your blood triggered by pregnancy. It causes frequent urination and excessive thirst, which could be a reason for your problem.
Most women are screened for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. But if you’re concerned earlier, request a test from your healthcare provider, as gestational diabetes puts mom and baby at risk for complications (3).
Medications, such as antihistamines, painkillers, decongestants, diuretics, antidepressants, or other prescription drugs could be another underlying cause. There are over 400 medications on the market right now, with dry mouth listed as an adverse reaction (4). Your healthcare provider will know what medications are safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding, make sure you go over your medications including any supplements or probiotics.
Oral Health And Pregnancy
Did You Know?
Dry mouth can trap food in your teeth, gums, and back of your mouth, promoting bacterial growth. The low levels of saliva associated with the condition reduce your ability to fight off bacteria.
While dry mouth is usually not serious, if you don’t treat it, the bacteria will build up, potentially leading to bad breath, bleeding gums, infections, and even tooth decay (6).
An infection in the mouth due to poor oral hygiene can actually cause infections around the heart. So always keep up with oral hygiene and especially dental appointments even when pregnant.
Editor's Note:Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
Pregnant women are more vulnerable to dental problems. Hormonal changes in pregnancy can lead to “pregnancy gingivitis,” which may cause gum swelling, bleeding, or tenderness (7).
As you are more susceptible to dental problems, it is vital to take good care of your oral health. Otherwise, it could affect your health, pregnancy, and baby’s health.
Relieving Dry Mouth During Pregnancy
1. Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is key to preventing dry mouth. During pregnancy, you should be drinking ten 8oz. cups of fluids each day, preferably water.
Coconut water, tea, and fruit juice are other good options. Sip on fluids throughout the day to stay well hydrated. Dark yellow urine means you need to drink more water. If it’s clear yellow, you’re staying hydrated.
2. Avoid Coffee, Soda, And Alcohol
Coffee, soda, and alcohol all cause dehydration and dry out the mouth, so it is best to avoid them, which you should be doing during pregnancy anyway (or at least keeping caffeine to an absolute minimum).
3. Ice Chips Or Frozen Fruit
Sucking on ice chips or frozen fruit throughout the day will moisten your mouth, keep you hydrated, and soothe any mouth sores you may have.
4. Use A Humidifier
Using a humidifier at night keeps moisture in the air and helps with your dry mouth. Be sure to empty and clean your humidifier often to prevent bacteria and mold growth. Choosing a “cool mist” humidifier decreases the risk of bacteria growth, bacteria like a warm moist environment.
5. Use Hard Candy Or Chewing Gum
Chewing on sugarless hard candy or chewing gum can stimulate saliva flow and keep your mouth lubricated.
6. Avoid Sugary And Salty Foods
Sugary and salty foods simply irritate and dry out your already dry mouth. So, avoid foods high in sugar and salt content, such as potato chips, pretzels, chocolate, ice cream, and many other processed foods.
7. Breathe In Some Steam
Breathing in steam for 10-15 minutes daily opens up your airways and relieves your dry mouth. Take some time to for yourself and take a nice steamy shower, or warm up some water in a tea kettle and breathe in the steam from a mug.
8. Try Ginger
Chewing on some ginger or drinking ginger tea might be a relief, as it activates the salivary glands and freshens the mouth. Plus, ginger helps with nausea during pregnancy, which is a bonus for those mamas with morning sickness.
9. Avoid Mouthwashes With Alcohol
If you’re big on mouthwash, be sure your brand is alcohol-free, as the alcohol can be drying. Most mouthwashes do contain alcohol, so if you must use mouthwash, look into buying one specifically designed for dry mouth.
10. Oil Up
Pulling coconut oil not only works for dry mouth, but also whitens your teeth, freshens your breath, kills bacteria, and can even help with tooth decay (8).
Take two tsp. of coconut oil (preferably organic, unrefined, cold-pressed) and lightly swish it around in your mouth for about 10-20 minutes (or at least for as long as you can withstand). You may have to chew up some of the coconut oil for a few seconds first to break the solid into a liquid.
After the 10-20 minutes are up, spit it out, and rinse your mouth with water. A perfect time to do this is while you shower or as you get ready in the morning.
Hit Refresh On Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is just of the many changes your body experiences during pregnancy. It’s quite a nuisance, but can easily be prevented and relieved with the ten tips we’ve listed above.
The condition usually isn’t serious, but if left untreated, could lead to serious dental complications, which you’re already at higher risk for being while pregnant.