People with diabetes, be it type 1 or type 2, often suffer from dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. The problem is, it’s not just a feeling. It can have serious consequences on an oral level.
Xerostomia is associated with an increased risk of caries, infections and periodontal disease. Several studies confirm that more than 70% of people with diabetes suffer from dry mouth. In this article, we explain why this problem arises and how it can be solved.
What are the symptoms of diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects glucose metabolism. There are two main forms: type 1 and type 2. In the case of type 1 diabetes, the pancreas no longer secretes insulin.
On the other hand, in type 2 there is usually resistance to insulin in the different tissues of the body. However, there may also be a decrease in secretion. This is a pathology that, unfortunately, is increasingly common.
Xerostomia is one of the main symptoms of diabetes. So much so that it, according to a review published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Nutrition (Spanish link) is one of the most common oral manifestations in people with diabetes. Other oral symptoms that can occur include:
- to swear
- pharyngeal candidiasis
- a burning sensation
However, these are not the only symptoms of this condition. There may also be issues such as polyuria (more frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and weight changes.
Why do people with diabetes suffer from dry mouth?
Xerostomia, as we said, is the term that refers to dry mouth. In people with diabetes, its appearance is due to a variety of factors, almost all of which are related to poor blood sugar.
First of all, frequent urination is one of the causes of xerostomia. More urination leads to dehydration. Since saliva consists mainly of water, its production changes when the composition of the body fluids is out of balance.
Another similar factor that determines dry mouth in diabetes is a change in the composition of saliva. Saliva contains glucose and proteins in addition to water.
A study published in the Journal of Oral Medicine and Pathology (Spanish link) explains that diabetes affects the morphology of the salivary glands. It produces what is called diabetic sialosis, which consists of the salivary glands that increase in size. This affects functioning.
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Other causes of xerostomia
Although a large percentage of people with diabetes suffer from dry mouth, this disease is not the only cause. It is important to note that many factors affect saliva production and many situations can cause xerostomia.
Non-diabetes related dehydration is an example of this. Likewise, medications can cause this symptom, especially types used in chemotherapy treatments (Spanish link).
Age also often plays a role, as do other chronic diseases such as cirrhosis, HIV and tuberculosis. Sjögren’s syndrome (Spanish link) is one of the most relevant causes of xerostomia.
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Solutions for dry mouth for people with diabetes
The importance of dry mouth in diabetes lies not only in the discomfort it causes, but also in the range of oral problems it can cause. For example, it increases the risk of cavities and infections, as well as periodontal disease.
It is therefore essential to take preventive measures to avoid and prevent this type of pathology. First of all, people with diabetes need their improve oral hygiene by brushing alongside also use mouthwash and dental floss.
In addition, it is best to avoid sugary and acidic liquids. Of course, staying hydrated is essential, but the best way to do this is to drink water. Regular visits to the dentist are also necessary as she must check and correct any change as soon as possible.
In a number of cases, doctors prescribe drugs that stimulate salivation (Spanish link). Patients can even use artificial saliva if needed. These measures are of course reserved for situations where the general measures cannot remedy the complaints.
People with diabetes are more likely to have a dry mouth. This is because the disease changes both the composition of the saliva and the morphology of the salivary glands.
To prevent this, it is necessary to keep good blood sugar control. Correct hydration and special care with oral hygiene are also essential requirements to reduce complications.
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