Dry mouth could be warning symptom of five serious illnesses, dentist warns

A dry mouth could be a symptom of a serious illness
A dry mouth could be a symptom of a serious illness -Credit:Getty Images/Digital Vision

A dry mouth could be a 'red flag' sign of five serious illnesses, according to a dentist.

There are many reasons why a person may have a dry mouth. It can be a symptom of snoring, smoking, some medications or drinking too much alcohol. Also, as we age, less saliva is produced.

However, poor oral health can be a warning for some potentially life-threatening illnesses, like diabetes and HIV. A persistent dry mouth can be a sign that something is going wrong elsewhere in the body, explained Dr Azad Eyrumlu, of private dental firm Banning Dental Group.

Dr Eyrumlu said: "A dry mouth can be a sign something’s not right elsewhere. This can manifest itself with symptoms such as a sticky feeling in the mouth, a dry or sore throat, difficulty chewing or swallowing or even bad breath. Certain health conditions such as a stroke, diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease can show themselves in this way, while these symptoms can also be an indicator of an autoimmune disorder such as HIV or Sjogren’s syndrome."

He added: “When you visit a dentist, we don’t just look out for your oral health. We are trained in how to spot certain wider problems with your general health, too. It’s vital to keep a close eye on your own health and if you do notice persistent symptoms of a dry mouth then you must highlight this with your GP."

Xerostomia is the name given to the condition whereby our salivary glands fail to produce sufficient saliva to keep the mouth moist, reports the Mirror. Our spit plays a key role in our oral health, although we may never consider its importance - it helps neutralise acids produced by bacteria and also wash away food particles.

It also contains important enzymes that aid the digestive process - ensuring our bodies get the vitamins and nutrients they need and it is essential to prevent tooth decay. In order to maintain good oral hygiene it is recommended you visit the dentist every six months.

Meanwhile experts recommend brushing your teeth for two minutes with toothpastes containing fluoride twice a day, as well as regular flossing and the use of mouthwash. Dry mouth could be a warning sign of:

  • HIV

  • Diabetes

  • Alzheimer's Disease

  • Stroke

  • Sjogren’s syndrome

According to the NHS, Sjögren's syndrome is a condition that affects parts of the body that produce fluids, like tears and spit (saliva). It usually starts in people aged 40 to 60 and is much more common in women than men.

"It's a long-term condition that can affect your daily life, but there are treatments to help relieve the symptoms," the NHS adds.