Oral health care is important for everyone, but especially so for diabetics. Sufferers are often at higher risk of dental problems, and one common complaint is dry mouth. Thankfully, there are many ways to help fight off this condition, and most of them can be practiced easily every day.
According to the American Diabetes Association, dry mouth and diabetes are a common combination because of the medications diabetics take, and thanks to heightened blood sugar. Saliva serves as the mouth's natural defense against cavity-causing bacteria and acid by washing away food particles and regulating the mouth's pH levels. With a dry mouth, these bacteria and acids remain, increasing your risk of cavities.
Here are four tips to help diabetics (and everyone else!) prevent dry mouth.
Water and Sugarless Products
One easy, diabetic-friendly way to keep your mouth moist and increase your level of comfort is to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The water will help rinse away food particles, keep your mouth at a healthier pH level and keep you hydrated. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research also recommends sugar-free gum or candies to help alleviate the effects of dry mouth.
According to the American Academy of Oral Medicine, the ambient air of modern homes can contribute to the feeling of dry mouth. It suggests adding moisture to the air using a humidifier, especially during the night.
When using a humidifier, keep it clean by washing the inside often, and changing its water daily. The Mayo Clinic says that, if you use a humidifier for health reasons, you may also want to use distilled water to fill it. Distilled or demineralized water is recommended over tap water, which has minerals that can lead to bacterial growth and mold, potentially leading to respiratory problems and allergies.
Dry mouth is sometimes a symptom of a spike in blood glucose levels, and meals that are high in refined sugars and fermentable carbohydrates make it much more difficult to regulate it. Instead, diabetics with dry mouth should aspire to a diet that is rich in vegetables and lean proteins. Choose vegetables low in carbohydrates, such as spinach, broccoli and tomatoes. These will provide essential nutrients without negatively affecting your blood sugar.
Regular Dental Checkups and Cleanings
Of course, people with diabetes should also commit to receiving regular dental cleanings and checkups, and maintain good oral hygiene habits. These should include thorough daily flossing and brushing your teeth after big meals. Consider products such as the Colgate® 360° Surround® toothbrush to help you keep your teeth, gums and tongue clean and clear of bacteria.
With these easy-to-follow tips, symptoms related to dry mouth and diabetes can be improved. If dry mouth persists, talk to your dentist and doctor to help you review your options.