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What is Cottonmouth?

what is cottonmouth

Cottonmouth is the sensation of a dry or parched mouth and throat after smoking cannabis. It is likened to the feeling of having a mouth full of cotton balls.  

“This OG Kush gives me such bad cottonmouth, yet I keep smoking it.”

“I always keep water with me after a sesh to prevent cottonmouth.”

What is cottonmouth?

Cottonmouth can occur with the oral consumption of cannabis, whether it be from dabbing, smoking or vaping. As cannabis smoke or vapor is inhaled, CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the mouth’s submandibular glands absorb the compounds and translate them into a recreational high or medical benefit. These glands also produce a majority of the body’s saliva, so the processes that absorb cannabinoids also reflexively decrease saliva production.

Cottonmouth, otherwise known as dry mouth or xerostomia is defined by the American Dental Association (ADA) as an issue when our mouth and salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva or spit to keep our mouth properly hydrated. This could be due to a habit, behavior, side effect of a medication, or in some cases indicative of an underlying issue.

When our salivary glands begin to slow down saliva production, this is what gives you the dry, parched feeling that can make life very uncomfortable and awkward.

Proper saliva production plays a crucial role in quality oral health, because not only does spit or saliva keep our mouth hydrated, but it also is a critical factor in digesting our food, regulating the pH level in our mouth, and minimizing the harmful bacteria that can cause tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

Is cottonmouth dangerous?

Not necessarily. Cottonmouth is easily managed with water, lozenges or even special toothpastes, but there are potential long-term effects if not addressed. Chronic dry mouth heightens susceptibility to plaque, gum disease, and cavities, so make sure to stay hydrated when smoking or vaping.

The Typical Symptoms of Cottonmouth Are:

  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Stringy saliva
  • Sticky or parched sensation in your mouth
  • A constant & unquenchable thirst
  • Difficulty speaking & swallowing
  • A raspy/hoarse voice
  • A sore throat
  • Problems tasting food & beverages
  • Trouble wearing dentures
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth & on the tongue

Why Do I Get Cottonmouth?

There can be many reasons why we’d get cottonmouth, and it can range from daily life activities like smoking tobacco, using marijuana or cannabis, eating certain foods, over-the-counter or prescription medications, stress, or a natural part of aging.

Clinical or Medical Causes of Cottonmouth:

  • Common over-the-counter medications
  • Common pharmaceutical prescriptions
  • Chemotherapy
  • Diabetes
  • Aging
  • Dehydration
  • A fever

Daily Activities That Cause Cottonmouth:

  • Eating spicy or salty foods
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Drinking too much caffeine
  • Smoking cigarettes or cigars
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Smoking medical marijuana or cannabis
  • Using narcotics

Why Saliva Production Is Important

what is cottonmouth

Proper saliva production is essential in our lives because it serves many roles in maintaining good oral health, not to mention makes daily aspects like talking and swallowing more manageable.

Healthy Saliva Production Will:

  • Help us digest our food
  • Allow our mouth to stay hydrated
  • Clean your mouth
  • Maintain a healthy pH level, so teeth and gums remain healthy
  • Help avoid oral infections from harmful bacteria

How does smoking cause dry mouth?

There’s no doubt about it, for us to have healthy teeth we need healthy gums.

Smoking, whether it’s tobacco or cannabis products is one of the most harmful habits for our oral health. Smoking is known to restrict your blood flow to other parts of your body, including your gums and mouth. When we have our healthy blood flow reduced, this can lead to gum disease and additional oral health issues.

In addition to lack of blood flow, the nicotine in tobacco products is also known to minimize saliva flow and lead to issues like cottonmouth from smoking which can snowball into more unpleasant issues like tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.

Gum disease from smoking can technically be broken down into two separate types due to the area it affects:

  1. Gum disease that inflames your gums
  2. Gum disease that causes loss of bone and tissue that surround and support your teeth.

With little to no support, our teeth will loosen, cause pain, and depending on how extreme the gum disease gets, may have to be extracted.

That’s why in order to minimize tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and dry mouth or cottonmouth, you must try to minimize smoking as much as possible, if not quit.

If you smoke:

  • You’re around 3X more likely to have gum disease.
  • You’re also more likely to have tooth decay.

Tips to avoid cottonmouth

what is cottonmouth

If you like to consume flower regularly, chances are you’ve already figured out that plentiful hydration is essential to avoiding cottonmouth. Water is best. Tea, coffee, and other caffeinated beverages should be avoided when smoking as they will only dehydrate you further.

“Alcohol is also an inhibitor of salivary gland activity, so try to cut down on the booze while consuming cannabis,” recommends Damas. “Chew gum too, as mastication can lead to increased saliva production.”

Stay away from tobacco, as it contributes to a dry mouth. Salty foods and snacks are also an obvious no-go as they only make you thirstier.

And if all else fails and you need some quick relief, here are some go-tos:

  1. Sour foods fire up the salivary glands. Candies like Sour Patch Kids are perfect. If you’re really game, try sucking on a slice of lemon.
  2. Spicy and sweet foods like dried chili-spiced mango are also perfect triggers to kickstart saliva glands into working order.
  3. Get chewing. If gum’s not your thing, try dried fruit, or anything chewy that sends your jaw into overtime.

DIY Ways To Treat Cottonmouth:

  • Drink more water
  • Try using xylitol products
  • Minimize or eliminate drinks/foods with sugar
  • Suck on ice cubes
  • Minimize or eliminate drinks with caffeine
  • Increase the moisture in your house by buying a humidifier
  • Avoid spicy or salty foods
  • Quit smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Minimize alcohol intake
  • Use ADA approved mints or gum with no sugar

Cottonmouth Still Got You Down? Try SmartMouth & Turn That Frown Upside Down

If you’ve tried all of these solutions to combat cottonmouth from smoking and you’re still feeling the dry, uncomfortable sensation, we’d suggest you try some proven solutions to soothe and relieve cottonmouth symptoms.

SmartMouth is the only dry mouth mouthwash proven to help relieve minor cottonmouth symptoms and prevent and eliminate bad breath for 12 hours with every rinse.

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