I’m a dentist and you must NEVER ignore dry mouth – it could be a sign of 5 serious illnesses
Plagued by dry mouth?
Chances are you’re just dehydrated and your body is telling you to drink more water.
It could also mean breathing through your mouth at night, or it could be related to stress, smoking, or your diet.
But in some cases, persistent dry mouth could be a sign of a serious illness, according to Dr. Azad Eyrumlu from dental company Banning Dental Group.
Dry mouth is known by the medical term xerostomia, which basically means lack of saliva in the mouth.
Saliva helps control bacterial levels and balances and washes away acids around teeth and gums.
dr Eyrumlu said: “A dry mouth can be a sign that something is wrong elsewhere. This can manifest itself in 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 stroke, diabetes or Alzheimer’s can present themselves in this way, while these symptoms can also be an indicator of an autoimmune disease such as HIV or Sjogren’s syndrome,” he added.
He said it’s important to speak to the GP if the dry mouth doesn’t go away.
Here we dig deeper into what your cottonmouth might be a red flag for.
People with diabetes are often prone to dry mouth due to high levels of glucose in their blood and saliva, Diabetes.co.uk said.
This will also predispose them to yeast infections like thrush, the charity added.
According to the Stroke Association, it’s common to have trouble swallowing after a stroke.
These can cause a dry mouth and cause a bad taste to build up there.
You’re also more likely to get mouth infections if you don’t have enough saliva.
If you have trouble swallowing, the charity recommends speaking to a speech therapist.
Mouth ulcers and canker sores are common in HIV patients, as is dry mouth.
This is because the virus can cause the salivary glands to swell, leading to decreased saliva production.
Dry mouth can also be a side effect of HIV medication, according to Medical News Today.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, people with the condition often forget to drink properly or practice good oral hygiene, leading to cottonmouth.
5. Sjogren’s Syndrome
This is a long-term condition that affects parts of the body that produce fluids, such as tears and spit, and most commonly affects people between the ages of 40 and 60.
Aside from dry mouth, other symptoms include:
- dry eyes
- dry skin
- vaginal dryness
- muscle or joint pain
- Swelling between the jaw and ears due to swollen salivary glands
- Rashes – especially after sun exposure
See a GP if you have these symptoms and they bother you, the NHS has said.
When to see a family doctor for dry mouth
It’s best to see a GP if you have dry mouth and:
- It’s still dry after trying home or pharmacy treatments for a few weeks
- You have difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking
- You have trouble eating regularly
- You have problems with your sense of taste that won’t go away
- Your mouth is sore, red, swollen, or bleeding
- You have sore white patches in your mouth
- You think a prescribed medication might be causing your dry mouth
- you have other symptoms, such as B. excessive urination or dry eyes
A family doctor can pinpoint the cause and make recommendations for treatment.
There are a few things you can do to relieve your dry mouth:
- Drink cold water regularly throughout the day and keep some by your bed at night
- suck on ice cubes or ice lolly
- Sip cold unsweetened beverages
- chewing sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless candy
- Use lip balm if your lips are dry too
- Brush your teeth twice a day and use an alcohol-free mouthwash – you’re more likely to get cavities if you have a dry mouth
You should avoid drinking lots of caffeine or fizzy drinks, and eating acidic, spicy, salty, or sugary foods.
It is also best to refrain from smoking. If you think a prescribed medicine is causing your dry mouth, do not stop taking it without first seeking medical advice.
Gels, sprays and lozenges for moistening the mouth are available from your pharmacy.