Diabetes and Dry Mouth

Dry mouth (xerostomia) is a lack of saliva in your mouth. It can be a symptom of high blood sugar in people with diabetes or another health issue. It can cause serious health issues such as gum disease and mouth infections. People with diabetes should have regular dental checkups and make lifestyle changes to maintain oral health and prevent dry mouth.


What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth, also called


(ZEER-oh-STOH-mee-ah), is a lack of moisture in your mouth. It happens when you don’t have enough saliva (spit).



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Is dry mouth a symptom of diabetes?

Dry mouth is a common symptom of high blood sugar in people with


. Sometimes dry mouth is the first noticeable symptom of diabetes. If you have dry mouth and think you could have diabetes, talk to your healthcare provider.


What does it feel like to have constant dry mouth?

Everyone may experience a dry mouth occasionally. But if you have dry mouth for a long time, you may feel or experience:

  • Bad breath, even after you brush your teeth.
  • Cracked, chapped lips.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Mouth sores.
  • New or wider spaces in the teeth.
  • Pain or a burning sensation in your mouth or throat.
  • Rough tongue.
  • Sticky, thick or stringy spit.
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing or talking.

Are dry mouth and diabetes together bad for my health?

Saliva has many important jobs, including:

  • Breaking down food.
  • Controlling bacteria.
  • Providing minerals to teeth so they’re stronger.
  • Rinsing acid and particles of food off the teeth and gums.

When a person doesn’t have enough saliva, they have a higher chance of getting:

  • Cavities.
  • Gingivitis

    (early gum disease).
  • Infections in your mouth.
  • Periodontitis

    (severe gum inflammation).
  • Plaque buildup.
  • Thrush

    (candidiasis), a fungal infection in your mouth.
  • Tooth decay.

People with diabetes who have high blood sugar are more at risk for infections, and they don’t heal as quickly as people with blood sugar levels in the target ranges. High blood sugar and dry mouth together can lead to serious dental problems if they’re not treated.


Possible Causes

What are the most common causes of xerostomia?

High blood sugar is a common cause of dry mouth. But it can happen for other reasons, including:

  • Damage to the nerves that control salivary glands.
  • Dehydration

  • Dialysis

    for kidney disease.
  • Breathing through your mouth a lot.
  • Other diseases, including

    HIV and AIDS


    Sjögren’s syndrome

  • Smoking.
  • Some medications (for example, drugs that treat cancer, high blood pressure, depression and bladder problems).
  • Stress


Care and Treatment

How is dry mouth with diabetes treated?

The best way to treat dry mouth is to treat whatever’s causing it.

If high blood sugar is the cause, you and your healthcare provider can find ways to monitor and

manage your blood sugar

. If a medication leads to dry mouth, you can ask your healthcare provider about stopping or changing the medication or taking lower doses.


Your healthcare provider also may recommend a

saliva substitute such as sorbitol



What can I do at home to treat xerostomia?

Strategies that can help decrease the feelings of dry mouth include:

  • Use lip balm.
  • Chew sugar-free gum or suck on sugar-free hard candy to boost saliva production.
  • Sip water throughout the day.
  • Use a humidifier while you sleep at night.

How can I prevent dry mouth with diabetes?

The best way to prevent dry mouth with high blood sugar is to work with your healthcare team to find a diabetes management plan that works for you. Here are some things that can help to keep your blood sugar in the target range:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
  • Keeping all your medical appointments.
  • Monitoring your blood glucose.
  • Taking medications as prescribed.
  • Staying active and maintaining a healthy weight.

Other lifestyle changes can also help prevent dry mouth:

  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, caffeine and anything with a lot of sugar or sugar substitutes.
  • Brush your teeth and gums twice a day, using toothpaste that contains fluoride.
  • Drink lots of water every day.
  • Floss between your teeth every day.
  • Limit salty and spicy foods.
  • Visit a dentist regularly (once or twice a year).

When should I talk to my healthcare provider about xerostomia?

Dry mouth might be an early symptom of diabetes. If you experience dry mouth, you should mention it to a healthcare provider at your next appointment.

But make an appointment sooner if you have diabetes and any of the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding from your teeth or mouth.
  • Loose teeth.
  • Mouth pain.
  • Sores in your mouth.
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing or talking.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Dry mouth is a common symptom in people with diabetes who have high blood sugar. Long-term dry mouth with diabetes can cause health problems, such as gum disease and infections. It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and to maintain good oral hygiene.

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