Dry Mouth During Pregnancy

Pregnant young woman with nausea

Pregnancy comes with a lot of discomfort; dryness of the mouth, also referred to as “cotton mouth”, can be one of them. Keep reading, as I improvise on the symptoms, causes, effects, and remedies.

Pregnancy, with the inexplicable joy of gifting you with a newborn child, also bombards you with quite a few health issues, and a lot of dos and don’ts. You may face discomfort during pregnancy, due to the hormonal fluctuations brought about by the metabolic activities. Some of the signs of discomfort include, increased weakness, heartburn, urgency to urinate frequently, vomiting, and backache. Beside all these usual symptoms, you may also face a very common symptom; dryness in the mouth.

It is not unusual to experience increased thirst and a parched mouth during pregnancy, while a few expecting women also face the problem of excess saliva secretion. In fact, thirst and dry mouth are the most frequently raised complaints pertaining to oral health, after conception. So, is there any relation between dry mouth and pregnancy? Or is dry mouth a normal sign?

Symptoms
The symptoms of a dry mouth, when one is pregnant, are no different from the normal, otherwise symptoms of a dry mouth. You obviously know your mouth is dry when there is no saliva being produced to keep your mouth wet. Apart from this obvious symptom, you may face several other symptoms of mouth dryness. Stickiness in the mouth, chapped dry lips, cracked sore lips or lip corners, parched throat, red, raw tongue, etc., are all signs of a dry mouth. When your mouth runs dry, you have difficulty in chewing and swallowing food, and talking. Dizziness and headache may follow as other symptoms of a cotton mouth.

Causes
The saliva of the mouth contains 98 percent water. It reduces rough friction in the mouth due to dryness. Absence of saliva can be one of the major reasons of having a dry mouth. It can occur due to many reasons. Dehydration ranks first in the list of those reasons. Lack of water (dehydration) can be the root, and is the basic cause of mouth dryness.

So, how does dehydration take its toll on a pregnant woman?
A woman might consume the same amount of water during pregnancy, that she used to consume before. If it did not dehydrate her then, why is she struck with it now? This is because, during pregnancy, the fetus extracts additional water, along with the food nutrition. Hence, the amount of water being consumed does not prove sufficient for the mother and the child. Dehydration can also occur due to the metabolic change or medication.

Another cause of dry mouth is underlying diabetes, which results in increased urination and thirst. Such diabetic symptoms lead to excess loss of water from the body. Thus, diabetic women are at a higher risk of developing dry mouth during gestation, than other healthy women. Pregnant women who go through these dry mouth and anxiety problems, should mention their medical conditions to their gynecologist.

Effects
It is pretty obvious how uncomfortable a dry mouth can make you feel.

  • Dehydration leads to overheating of the expectant mother’s body. Pregnancy gives it more scope. Rise in temperature in the mother’s body can leave the baby with the same experience.
  • The occurrence of dehydration in the first trimester may lead to NTD (neutral tube defects).
  • In the later stages, it may cause labor complications, cesarean delivery, premature delivery, uterus contraction or constricted umbilical cord.
  • Dehydration may not excrete the waste of the body of the baby and the mother properly.
  • This can cause a strain on the baby’s kidneys and liver, and is also not good for the mother.
  • Dehydration can lead to miscarriage.
  • It also makes you feel nauseated.
  • It decreases the volume of blood and causes fatigue in pregnant women.
  • Dry mouth increases bacteria build up, which also leads to cavities, tartar, bad breath and tooth decay.

Remedies
Although, dry mouth during pregnancy is not a complication for healthy women, those who have a medical history of gestational diabetes or any type of diabetes, need medical attention. The doctor may perform urine tests, blood tests and other diagnostic methods to detect diabetes. After confirmation, the concerned physician will recommend medications and lifestyle changes to bring the blood sugar level to normal range. Or in other words, with the treatment of diabetes, the symptoms of dry mouth and extreme thirst will be reduced.

In general, there is no particular treatment for dry mouth. After all, it is actually a symptom, not a disease. Nevertheless, there are certain self-care tips and home remedies that can be practiced to combat this discomforting condition. An effectual remedy to get relief from frequent incidences of very dry mouth, is drinking lots of water to make up for the water loss, and also to meet the requirements of the body. In order to stimulate production of saliva in the mouth, consider chewing sugarless gum or sucking on hard candies. As saliva moistens the mouth, you will get some relief.

Recommendations

  • Drink a lot of water. At least 2 – 3 liters everyday.
  • Consume wet foods like gravies, soups, curries, etc. Avoid dry food items.
  • Do not use mouthwashes that have alcohol present in them, because alcohol dehydrates the body.
  • Avoid salty, spicy and sugary food.
  • Avoid caffeine (tea, coffee and aerated drinks).
  • Have fruits that are high in water content. Fresh juices would also be helpful.
  • Try using artificial saliva that is available in sprays, tablets, rinses, gels, swabs, etc. However, most of these are available only if prescribed by a doctor.

In case dry mouth is accompanied with bad breath, seek advice from your concerned gynecologist regarding safe bad breath products that you can use. Maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial to minimize the risk of dental problems for you, and other health conditions for your baby. With proper remedies, this discomfort can be dealt with effectively, without causing medical complications.