diabetes and dry mouth
Metabolic Health

Diabetes and Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, occurs when you don't secrete enough saliva and your mouth gets dry. In diabetics, dry mouth is a common sign of elevated blood sugar. A dry mouth is sometimes the first indication of diabetes.

Adequate saliva production is necessary as it helps in controlling bacterial growth in the mouth, helps in food breakdown, supplies key minerals to strengthen teeth, and rinses away acid and food particles lodged in the teeth and gums.

People with diabetes who have high blood sugar are more susceptible to infections and heal slower than those who have blood sugar levels that are within the acceptable range. If left untreated, high blood sugar and dry mouth can lead to serious dental complications.

What are the Side Effects of Xerostomia?

If enough saliva is not produced, it can cause:

  • Cavities 
  • Early gum disease (gingivitis)
  • Mouth infections 
  • Severe gum inflammation (periodontitis)
  • Plaque 
  • Candidiasis: fungal infection of the mouth. 
  • Tooth decay 

What does having a Dry Mouth feel like?

Experiencing dry mouth occasionally is common, but if it persists for a long time, you might feel:

  • Bad breath after brushing
  • Cracked or chapped lips
  • Soreness in the mouth
  • Loosening of teeth
  • Wider and new spaces in between teeth
  • Burning sensation in the mouth and throat
  • Pain in the mouth and throat
  • Roughness in the tongue
  • Thick stringy and sticky spit
  • Difficulty in chewing, taking and swallowing. 
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What are the most Common Causes of Xerostomia?

Xerostomia can be caused by:

  • High blood sugar level
  • Damaged nerves controlling salivary glands
  • Dehydration
  • Kidney dialysis
  • Excessive breathing from the mouth
  • Diseases like HIV AIDS and Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Smoking cigarettes 
  • Certain medications: antidepressants, cancer treating drugs, drugs for high blood pressure and kidney disorders.  
  • Stress 

What Can I do at Home to Treat Xerostomia?

Preventive measures and home remedies to treat Xerostomia include: 

  • applying lip balm.
  • To increase saliva production, chewing sugar-free gum or eat sugar-free hard candy.
  • drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • While sleeping at night, using a humidifier.
  • Managing high blood sugar levels:
  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet 
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Monitoring blood glucose levels
  • Following up with regular appointments.
  • Timely taking the prescribed medications
  • Avoiding alcohol and smoking. 
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride containing toothpaste. 
  • Keeping hydrated 
  • Avoid eating excessively salty and spicy foods.
  • Flossing between the teeth
  • Regular visits to the dentist

When should I talk to my Doctor about Xerostomia?

A dry mouth could be a sign of diabetes in its early stages. If you have dry mouth, tell your healthcare practitioner about it at your next appointment. However, if you have diabetes and experience symptoms other than Xerostomia, immediately schedule an appointment. Other symptoms include: 

  • Bleeding from the mouth or teeth.
  • Teeth that are loose.
  • Mouth ache.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Having difficulty chewing, swallowing, or speaking.

Bottomline 

Dry mouth is a common sign among diabetics with high blood sugar levels. Xerostomia caused by diabetes can lead to health issues such as gum disease and infections. It's necessary to discuss your symptoms with your doctor and practise good oral hygiene.

FAQs

Why Do You Get a Dry Mouth with Diabetes?

Dry mouth has always been a common symptom for people with diabetes. High blood sugar levels are often considered to be the reason behind it. If you leave dry mouth untreated for the long term, it can lead to prolonged health problems like gum diseases and infections. 

What Does a Diabetic Dry Mouth Feel Like?

Dry mouth is a common condition in people with Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes. It is also commonly recognized as xerostomia. During this condition, you will feel your mouth getting dry, your lips cracked, and your tongue rough. If these symptoms are a regular occurrence, you should not avoid it and consult a doctor at the earliest.

References

  • https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/22495-diabetes-and-dry-mouth

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