The descriptive term "cotton mouth" aptly characterizes how the inside of your mouth feels after consuming cannabis. If somebody says they've got cotton mouth, that means their mouth feels like it's been lined with cotton and deprived of every drop of saliva. Even worse is the fact that once cotton mouth sets in, it seems like no matter how much or what you drink, nothing gets rid of the terrible dryness.
Years ago, everybody thought cotton mouth was the natural result of smoking cannabis. It just made sense that smoke would dehydrate oral tissues and cause you to get really thirsty. But then, somebody made the observation that the dry mouth they sometimes experienced after smoking a cigarette was not nearly as bad as the "cotton mouth" they got after smoking cannabis. So, cotton mouth can't be attributed to just smoke, right?
Fortunately, curious scientists heard about this phenomenon and performed animal research studies on possible causes of cotton mouth. Surprisingly, what they found had nothing to do with smoke drying out the mouth. Instead, cotton mouth happens because the salivary glands contain cannabinoid receptors. In fact, the same cannabinoid receptors in the brain--CB1 and CB2--were detected in certain areas of the salivary glands. When cannabinoid anandamide (a specific type of cannabinoid) attaches itself to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it significantly reduces the amount of saliva released from glands.
So, now you know why you can experience cotton mouth from eating or vaping cannabis products. It's all about cannabinoids and canabinnoid receptors! But, is there anything you can do to reduce cotton mouth without having to drink five bottles of water or a 2-liter of Coke after vaping, eating or smoking cannabis?
Top 4 Ways to Combat Cotton Mouth
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), it's not the gum itself that promotes saliva production, it's the act of moving your jaws up and down that increases saliva flow. Whenever you chew something--whether it's gum, beef jerky or crunchy French fries--your jaw muscles signal the brain to tell the saliva glands to start pumping out saliva. Your brain thinks you are eating real food that needs to be dissolved in saliva for ease of swallowing. If you're going to chew gum after using cannabis, make sure it's a sugarless gum containing Xylitol, a sugar substitute beneficial to dental health.
Suck on Hard Sour Candy
If just thinking about eating lemons makes your mouth start salivating, then you know why sucking on sour lemon (or whatever your favorite flavor is) candy may help your mouth feel less like a cotton ball.
Drink Green Tea
Green tea not only stimulates the salivary glands into producing more saliva but also provides antibacterial protection against tooth decay. However, remember that all tea is caffeinated and may keep you up at night if you drink it too close to your bedtime.
Wet Your Mouth with Fruit Juice Popsicles
Take an ice cube tray, pour your favorite juice into each cube, cover the tray with aluminum foil and poke a popsicle stick into each cube. The foil will keep the sticks in place until the juice freezes around the sticks. You can also make homemade popsicles out of your favorite soda or flavored water.
Of course, sometimes all you want is a big glass (or two) of cold water to rinse away the fuzzies in your mouth. While water, Gatorade and other electrolyte-infused beverages work well to rehydrate your body, they may provide only temporary relief from cotton mouth. Dry mouth caused by cannabis products is due to decreased activity of your salivary glands. However, cannabis use does not dehydrate the rest of your body like alcohol or coffee does.