Waking Up With A Dry Mouth

What Causes Waking Up With A Dry Mouth?

Waking up with a dry mouth can have various causes, ranging in severity from 'very minor' to 'life-threatening'.  Finding the true cause means ruling out or confirming each possibility – in other words, diagnosis.

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Diagnosis is usually a complex process due to the sheer number of possible causes and related symptoms.  In order to diagnose waking up with a dry mouth, we could:

  • Research the topic
  • Find a doctor with the time
  • Use a diagnostic computer system.
The process is the same, whichever method is used.

Step 1: List all Possible Causes

We begin by identifying the disease conditions which have "waking up with a dry mouth" as a symptom.  Here are eight of many possibilities (more below):
  • Susceptibility To Cavities
  • Phosphorus Deficiency
  • Bad Breath
  • Cigarette Smoke Damage
  • General Toxicity
  • Tonsil Stones
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

We then identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
sleep apnea
absent sexual desire
waking up with choking sensation
having trouble concentrating
disturbed sleep
moderate abdominal pain
smoking 2-5 cigarettes per day
history of many broken bones
low energy/stamina
wearing dirty dentures while awake
diffuse bone pain
major joint pain/swelling/stiffness
... and more than 30 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of waking up with a dry mouth:
Cause Probability Status
Sleep Apnea 95% Confirm
Low Carbohydrate Diet Consequences 27% Unlikely
Phosphorus Deficiency 23% Unlikely
Susceptibility To Cavities 0% Ruled out
Bad Breath 0% Ruled out
Tonsil Stones 0% Ruled out
General Toxicity 0% Ruled out
Cigarette Smoke Damage 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate sleeping-related problems, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
How often do you wake up with a dry mouth? Do not include dry mouth that is caused by sleeping with your mouth open for known physical reasons such as nasal obstruction, a skeletal defect, or abnormally large tonsils.
Possible responses:
→ Never / almost never / don't know
→ I sleep open-mouthed for a known physical reason
→ Occasionally - once a month or less
→ Regularly - a few times a month
→ Usually or always
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate mouth breathing while sleeping, waking up with a dry mouth or often waking up with a dry mouth, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Without sufficient saliva, oral bacteria are not washed away.  This often leads to bad breath.

Bad Breath (Halitosis) also suggests the following possibilities:

Effects of a Low Carbohydrate Diet

The acetone resulting from a state of ketosis escapes through the lungs – giving Atkins Diet followers, for example, what one weight-loss expert calls "rotten-apple breath." [Health 19 (1996): p.102]  The other ketones have to be excreted by the kidneys.  In a study funded by Dr. Atkins himself, most of the people that could stick with the diet reported headaches and halitosis (bad breath).

Tonsil Stones

A medical study conducted in 2007 found a strong association between tonsilloliths and bad breath.  Among those with bad breath, 75% of the subjects had tonsilloliths while only 6% of subjects with normal breath had tonsilloliths.

Periodontal Disease - Gingivitis

A dry mouth can increase your risk of developing gum disease.  The lack of saliva allows bacteria to stick to teeth and gums, rather than being washed away.

Susceptibility To Cavities

The lack of saliva in a dry mouth allows bacteria to stick to teeth and gums, rather than being washed away.

Susceptibility To Cavities also suggests the following possibilities:

Phosphorus Deficiency

Phosphorus is just as important for healthy teeth as calcium.  Without sufficient phosphorus, your body can not properly utilize the calcium that you consume.

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