Did you know that 9.3% of the United States population has diabetes? That's nearly 1 out of 10 people. One common symptom that people with diabetes experience is dry mouth. Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, happens when you don't produce enough saliva. If this is something you're experiencing, we've got your back. Let's look into why people with diabetes experience dry mouth, the oral implications of dry mouth, what you can do to support yourself, and ways to improve your oral hygiene.
Diabetes And Dry Mouth
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
Why Do People With Diabetes Often Have Dry Mouth?
Xerostomia and diabetes frequently occur together. Why? Two of the leading causes of dry mouth for people with diabetes are high blood sugar levels in saliva and medication side effects. There are other causes too, which are not directly related to diabetes but can intensify the problem. These include:
- Poor hydration
- Breathing through your mouth
- The development of diabetic neuropathy
Oral Health Implications of Dry Mouth
Saliva plays a significant role in your digestion process, as well as in your oral health. Since dry mouth is the reduction of saliva in the mouth, oral health is impacted significantly by dry mouth.
Saliva washes food particles and bacteria off your teeth and neutralizes the acids in your mouth, preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Therefore, a lack of saliva increases your risk of tooth decay. This condition could lead to other problems, including salivary gland infections, mouth sores, oral thrush, and irritation around the corners of the mouth, along with additional issues for people with dentures. To protect your oral health and make yourself feel most comfortable, it's always best to care for your dry mouth symptoms and potential causes as soon as possible.
What You Can Do
There's a lot you can do to prevent and manage the symptoms of dry mouth from diabetes. With awareness and effort, you can significantly improve how you feel.
Talk to your dentist about your medication. If your medication is causing your dry mouth, talk to your health care provider about options. They may be able to change your dosage or even the type of medication you're taking. There's also the option of using a saliva substitute.
Monitor glucose levels. To prevent high blood sugar from causing dry mouth, regularly monitor your blood glucose levels. Keep your levels under control by eating right, exercising, taking medications as prescribed, and following your health care provider's other instructions.
In addition to these specific recommendations related to diabetes, you can also relieve dry mouth symptoms by following these helpful tips:
- Sip water often and during meals
- Stay away from caffeine.
- Chew sugarless gum or enjoy a sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow. Try citrus, cinnamon, or mint-flavored!
- Stay clear of spicy or salty foods.
- Don't use tobacco or alcohol.
- Use a humidifier at night.
- Use a mouth spray for dry mouth.
Oral Hygiene for Dry Mouth
Good oral hygiene helps to prevent dry mouth from diabetes as well as manage its symptoms. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after every meal, and floss at least once a day. And if you wear dentures, make sure to clean them once a day.
Now you know the connection between dry mouth and diabetes, so you can be proactive in managing how you feel. Remember to talk to your healthcare provider about medications, monitor your glucose levels, and practice symptom reduction techniques like sipping water throughout the day. And of course, don't forget your oral hygiene! The key is that there's a lot you can do to support yourself and feel your best. Start taking steps in taking care of your dry mouth today so that your mouth can smile more tomorrow.
Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider.