A dentist has revealed the little-known general health problems that cause you to have a dry mouth – and why you should never ignore it. It’s relatively common for our mouths not to produce as much saliva as we grow older, or due to other circumstances such as taking medication and smoking.
However, dry mouth can sometimes be an early warning sign that something is wrong elsewhere in the body, and can even be a red flag for serious illnesses including diabetes, stroke and even HIV. Dr Azad Eyrumlu, of leading private dental firm Banning Dental Group, said: “Our bodies are incredibly complex and different parts are closely linked even though we might not always realise it.
“Sometimes poor oral health can lead to serious issues in other parts of the body, and the reverse is true in the sense that 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.”
Dr Eyrumlu 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, also known as dry mouth, is the condition where our salivary glands fail to produce sufficient saliva to keep our mouths moist. Saliva plays a key role in oral health as it helps neutralise acids produced by bacteria and also wash away food particles.
These are key processes in the prevention of tooth decay. It also contains important enzymes that aid the digestive process and ensure our bodies get the vitamins and nutrients they need.
While dry mouth can sometimes have an innocent cause, such as snoring or the overconsumption of alcohol, it can be a red flag for certain serious illnesses.It’s recommended to see a dentist every six months to make sure your oral hygiene is in good shape and to keep track of any developing problems.
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.