Can Cold Weather Cause Dry Mouth?

Ever wondered why you get cotton mouth during the cold? Your salivary glands might have something to do with it. Here's why you get dry mouth due to cold.

Can Cold Weather Cause Dry Mouth?

Depending on the type of person you are—or which area you’re from—you either love the colder weather or hate it. Whether that’s the occasional cold front or all the winter months, you either love the frozen delights or hate all the problems that come with it, like dry skin and bad breath. Of all these ailments, however, dry mouth—the terrible sensation that comes with dried-out salivary glands—is the most common. The question, now, is this: can cold weather cause dry mouth?

There’s a lot of reasons why someone would have a dry mouth. And when we say “dry mouth,” we mean a mouth that’s devoid of saliva. There are different reasons why this happens, including:

  • Prescription medicines
  • Nerve damage
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Smoking

Most of these cases involve some physical disruption of the salivary glands, whether physically or chemically. And half of it involves health problems. Knowing this, however, can cold weather cause dry mouth? 

Can you get a dry mouth due to cold? 

When colder weather comes around, your mouth isn’t the only thing that goes dry. You are also more likely to get a case of dry skin and dry eyes as well. Unlike those sweltering summer days, the air in cold weather is quite dry. Sweat, surprisingly, evaporates faster in colder weather than it does in hotter temperatures. But unlike the heat, your body doesn’t recognize it needs water when it’s freezing cold. All the dryness you feel in the winter months, then, is a result of dehydration.

The same thing goes for your saliva flow. When you lack water or other fluids in your body, your salivary glands produce less saliva than it would in average temperatures. If you tend to sleep with your mouth open, you might find yourself with a feeling of cottonmouth the day after. That’s because your mouth becomes extra dry. Not only do you have a limited amount of saliva flow, but the saliva left in your mouth immediately also evaporates once in contact with the dry air. It’s no wonder why you get dry mouth sleeping in winter. 

So in a sense, cold weather can cause dry mouth. But not necessarily because of the cold. It’s because of the dryness. And this can lead to a slew of complications. When your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, you’re more likely to get tooth decay and bad breath. Because nothing sweeps away those bacteria-friendly sugars. What can you do then?

I’ve got a dry mouth sleeping in the winter months. What do I do now?

So let’s say you got a case of cottonmouth the day after. Now that we know why your mouth goes dry during colder weather, the next step is to understand how to solve it.  

Fortunately, the answer is just right under your nose. If dry mouth due to cold is caused by dehydration, one of the easiest ways to solve this is to drink lots of water. Because you don’t feel as thirsty during the winter months, being intentional about your water intake is a significant first step to beating that wooly feeling.

Having some sugar-free gum at hand can also help your saliva production. Chewing, after all, queues your salivary glands to create more saliva. And if it contains xylitol, it also has the additional benefit of starving off those tooth decay-causing bacteria.

So when the next cold front arrives, don’t worry about getting a bad case of dry mouth. You have everything you need.