Dry Mouth Could Be a ‘Red Flag’ Symptom of 5 Serious Illnesses

Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is more than just an uncomfortable condition that makes it hard to enjoy your favorite foods. While it’s common to experience temporary dryness due to dehydration or nervousness, chronic dry mouth can be a warning sign of more serious health issues. Dentists and healthcare professionals at Forestwood Dental urge people not to ignore persistent dry mouth, as it could be a symptom of the following five serious illnesses.

1. Diabetes

One of the most common causes of chronic dry mouth is diabetes. When blood sugar levels are poorly controlled, it can lead to dehydration and reduced saliva production. Saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralize acids produced by bacteria, so a lack of saliva can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. If you have dry mouth along with symptoms like increased thirst, frequent urination, and unexplained weight loss, it’s crucial to get tested for diabetes.

2. Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks its own moisture-producing glands. This results in dry mouth and dry eyes. This condition predominantly affects women and can occur at any age, though it is most common in those over 40. Besides causing discomfort, Sjogren’s Syndrome can lead to complications like dental decay, oral thrush, and difficulty swallowing.


HIV/AIDS can lead to a variety of oral health issues, including dry mouth. The virus itself, along with certain medications used to treat it, can reduce saliva production. People living with HIV/AIDS may also experience other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, fever, and chronic fatigue. Regular dental check-ups are essential for managing oral health and detecting any changes early.

4. Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is another autoimmune disease that can cause dry mouth. This condition not only affects the joints but can also involve the salivary glands, leading to decreased saliva production. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis often report dry mouth along with joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Managing this condition typically involves medication and lifestyle changes to alleviate symptoms and prevent joint damage.

5. Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects movement. One of the lesser-known symptoms of Parkinson’s is dry mouth. This can be due to both the disease itself and the medications used to treat it. Saliva helps in chewing and swallowing, so a lack of it can lead to difficulties in eating and maintaining oral hygiene. Regular dental visits and tailored oral care routines are important for individuals with Parkinson’s to manage dry mouth and its effects.

Managing Dry Mouth

If you’re experiencing chronic dry mouth, it’s important to speak with both your dentist and healthcare provider. Here are some steps to manage dry mouth and maintain good oral health:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep your mouth moist.
  • Chew Sugar-Free Gum: Chewing gum can stimulate saliva production.
  • Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol: These can further dry out your mouth.
  • Use a Humidifier: Adding moisture to the air, especially at night, can help alleviate dry mouth.
  • Maintain Good Oral Hygiene: Brush and floss regularly, and use fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth.


Dry mouth is more than just a minor annoyance; it can be a sign of serious underlying health conditions. If you’re experiencing persistent dry mouth, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice at Forestwood Dental. Early detection and management of the root cause can help you maintain better overall health and prevent complications. Regular dental check-ups play a crucial role in identifying these red flags and ensuring that your oral health is well-managed.