Dry Mouth and Diabetes: Managing the Symptoms

This November during National Diabetes Month, healthcare professionals across the country are working to bring awareness to signs and symptoms of the disease. Because there is no vaccine or miracle drug for diabetes, it is crucial that attention is brought to the impact that diabetes has on quality of life. As those with diabetes and their family know, there is more to the disease than pricking your finger or taking insulin. It is important that all aspects of physical well-being are addressed to help those living with diabetes.

Good dental health and diabetes are connected

Dental health is one such area that may not be so obvious when thinking about diabetes. Dry mouth, a common symptom, is a serious issue that should not be overlooked. Dry mouth occurs when not enough saliva is produced and is more than just feeling thirsty. It is painful, uncomfortable, and could lead to further complications like infection or sores in the oral cavity. For some, dry mouth is temporary. People with diabetes however, face a tougher challenge.

Dry mouth is a common symptom and cause of high blood sugar for reasons that are currently unclear to scientists. For everyone, saliva is an essential part of the digestive system and an important defense against germs. But having a dry mouth, especially as a diabetic, can lead to tooth decay.

By making key lifestyle changes, using effective products, and maintaining active communication with one’s health-care providers, dry mouth is treatable. If you or a loved one has diabetes, following these tips may improve dry mouth.

What can you do to treat dry mouth?

Because dry mouth is often a symptom of diabetes, sticking with the same lifestyle changes diabetics are familiar with can help. Manage blood sugar levels by having food or drinks that are low in sugar. Combining this with eating high-fiber foods and healthy fats and proteins will make an impact.

Sugar-free gum and candies can help stimulate saliva flow, temporarily relieving dry mouth symptoms. Sipping water regularly can also help cleanse the mouth of harmful bacteria. Avoid caffeine, tobacco, and alcoholic beverages, which can make dry mouth worse. Consider using a humidifier in your home. The added moisture to the air may help. Finally, maintain good dental health to fight off tooth decay. Keep up with brushing your teeth at least twice a day, floss every day, and use a toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Saliva-promoting products also manage dry mouth. Some mouthwashes are alcohol-free and specifically designed for dry mouth.  Look for products that contain the ingredient xylitol like those from Biotene and ACT.

Finally, it is essential that you regularly talk with your doctors and dentist. Regular dental check-ups twice a year ensure that any complications from diabetes like dry mouth are treated as soon as possible.

Take control of your diabetes

For many diabetics, having dry mouth is another part of living with diabetes. But, as with others part of diabetes, it can be managed. Nobody should have to deal with pain in the mouth or struggle chewing, talking or swallowing. Nobody should feel a loss of dignity because they happen to live with a disease. So, take the steps needed to improve your quality of life.