Does Diabetes Cause Xerostomia or Dry Mouth?

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Surajeet Kumar Patra, MBBS, MD, FDIAB, MBA & APMP January 11, 2022

Last updated on March 1st, 2022

by Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a condition when an individual’s salivary glands fail to form a sufficient amount of saliva so that mouth can remain moist. Xerostomia might be an indication of diabetes and can be a side effect of anti-diabetes medicine as well. As per recent studies, dry mouth is a common sign of diabetes. Read on to know about the symptoms of dry mouth and its connection with diabetes. Also, get acquainted with the ways of treating this dry mouth.

What is Xerostomia in Diabetic Patients?

Concisely, xerostomia or dry mouth is when the mouth struggles to produce enough saliva. And each bit of a person’s mouth feels like it’s dehydrated with cotton balls. This condition commonly occurs in individuals suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, however, if a person is experiencing it almost daily, then he or she must not ignore it.

On top of the mouth feeling continually dry, signs of dry mouth can be:

  • dry, cracked lips
  • dry, rough-feeling tongue
  • a frequent dry sensation in the mouth
  • bad breath
  • sores on the gums and internal areas of lips
  • overall pain all over the mouth
  • uneasiness while consuming, chewing, and swallowing food

In addition, the ADA mentions that dry mouth might include:

  • a sore throat
  • nasal aridness
  • huskiness

What Brings About Dry Mouth in Diabetic Patients?

There are several causes for xerostomia that may apply to anyone, several might specifically apply to diabetic individuals. Let’s take a closer look.

xerostomia and diabetes


Initially, take a look at the non-diabetes drugs that one must be taking, as common pharmaceutical medications are found to result in dry mouth. These drugs can be:

  • antihypertensive drugs
  • anti-depressants
  • bladder-control drugs
  • kidney dialysis medications
  • chemotherapeutic agents
  • radiation therapy

When the matter of diabetes and blood glucose levels comes, there are two diverse scenarios that may give rise to dry mouth. One is temporary while the other may turn lasting and chronic. Neither must be overlooked.

Unexpected Spikes in Your Blood Glucose Levels:

Signs of xerostomia in diabetic patients may at times come and go sporadically when a person’s blood glucose level becomes abruptly higher than normal. No one manages diabetes effortlessly, hence raised glucose levels occasionally are anticipated in type 1 or type 2 diabetes, even in people with healthy HbA1cs and healthy levels of blood glucose.

Chronically Raised Glucose Levels:

But if a person’s signs of xerostomia are continuous, it is expected to be an indication that his or her blood glucose levels are running too high regularly. Chronic xerostomia is simple to dismiss as no big deal, however, it may simply result in an infection and gum disease if left unmanaged.

If raised glucose levels are combined with insufficient amounts of saliva, the risk for these conditions enhances significantly:

  • tooth decay
  • fungal infection (which may also result in high blood glucose)
  • thrush or candidiasis (oral yeast infection)
  • gum disease

It may also happen as a result of autoimmune conditions including:

  • thyroid disease
  • Sjögren’s syndrome, which is rare
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • primary biliary cirrhosis

A person’s mouth was intended to be at its healthiest in a moist setting. It depends upon saliva to aid in removing food and bacteria from a person’s mouth. Together with the many other complications that may accompany constantly high blood sugars, his or her mouth is vulnerable, as well.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis

Normally, this condition happens in individuals having insulin-dependent diabetes. DKA is a condition in which there is a too small a amount of insulin in the body, the levels of blood sugar go too high, and a person’s body begins to struggle to appropriately burn glucose in the bloodstream for the purpose of energy. Ketone levels can be checked by means of urine strips or a more expensive alternative, i.e., blood ketone meter. Left unmanaged, DKA might be risky. For most, treatment of DKA is just like visiting a hospital instantly to receive i.v. fluids such as saline and electrolytes, in combination with insulin, to bring a person’s body’s blood glucose and fluid levels back to standard levels.

DKA Management

A Ketogenic diet

A ketogenic has become well-known for diabetic patients. The diet’s guidelines originate from consumption of severely low carb quantities, i.e., fewer than 20 to 30 grams total net carb per day. Many do find, on the other hand, that a ketogenic diet leaves them feeling thirstier, which is mainly because of the easy (and non-serious) swing in electrolytes when a person’s body burns fat as its primary energy source.

Ketogenic Diet

What is the Association Between Diabetes and Xerostomia?

Its high occurrence in this population can be because of:

  • Raised sugar levels: In diabetic people, glucose levels may go too high. The term for this is hyperglycemia, and it may result in dry mouth.
  • Dehydration: Diabetic patients are more inclined to dehydration.
  • Diabetes drugs: Some drugs that an individual consumes to control diabetes may result in dry mouth as an adverse effect.
  • Kidney conditions: Gradually, high blood sugar may result in renal problems, which can bring about dry mouth.

Also, roughly two-thirds of diabetic patients have high blood pressure or use drugs to help control hypertension. Dry mouth may happen as an ill effect of these drugs.

Also Read: Insulin Mixtard 30/70 40iu Suspension For Injection

Is Dry Mouth an Indication of Diabetes?

As per studies, xerostomia may be a warning sign of diabetes. On the other hand, it is common in diabetic patients, it is not the only indication. An individual might potentially experience numerous signs because of diabetes, such as:

  • Hazy vision
  • Exhaustion
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Increased hunger
  • Enhanced thirst
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Urinating more often
  • Tingling or numbness in the extremities, including hands or feet

Even though, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes have the same signs, the NIDDK mention that they do not progress correspondingly. They state that while individuals who develop type 1 diabetes generally experience fast inception of signs, individuals experiencing type 2 diabetes have a tendency to notice a steady onset of signs, which they might fail to observe until another complication develops, like hazy vision.

Also Read: how to reduce sugar level home remedies

Treatment of Xerostomia

Individuals experiencing xerostomia because of drugs may discuss with a healthcare provider regarding the likelihood of switching drugs. Managing any underlying health problems like keeping the glucose levels within a safe range to manage diabetes might also assist.

Healthcare experts may also recommend medicines to stimulate the production of saliva. These may involve pilocarpine, which has a dosage of 5 mg thrice a day, and cevimeline, a typical dosage of 30 mg thrice a day.

An individual would require consuming these medicines for 3 months to make sure that they are functional. Also, an individual may try saliva alternatives that are available in the form of gels, sprays, and lozenges. On the other hand, the studies established that these do not function consistently and that when they do, they only offer transitory relief.

Also Read: Diabetes and Anemia: Risk Associated Due to Anemia in Patients With Diabetes

Complications For Dry Mouth Due to Diabetics

The ADA state that saliva plays key roles in the mouth, which may involve:

  • maintaining the health of the soft and hard tissues
  • counterbalancing the acids present in the mouth that bacteria form
  • washing away food and debris
  • assisting in guarding against microorganisms and overgrowth that can result in illnesses

If proper treatment is not given to the patients, dry mouth may give rise to issues like tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontitis, and oral thrush.

The NIDDK propose that individuals should exercise numerous steps to help keep their mouth healthy, such as:

  • making regular visits to the dentist
  • using dental floss
  • by using fluoride toothpaste
  • using a mouthwash for preventing cavities and gum disease
  • eating a balanced diet
  • drinking water that contains fluoride

Also Read: Foods to Avoid While Taking Metformin

Home Remedies For Dry Mouth in Diabetics

It is recommended that an individual should take the following steps to reduce the signs of dry mouth:

  • Avoiding spicy or salty food products as these might exacerbate the mouth
  • Using a humidifier while sleeping
  • Sipping water or other sugar-free beverages during meals to help to swallow
  • Abstaining the use of alcohol or tobacco
  • Sipping water gradually during the day
  • Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candy to stimulate the production of saliva
  • Avoiding caffeinated drinks

Also Read: basil seeds benefits

Tips for a Healthy Mouth

  • Try to get a target A1c of 7.0% or lower.
  • Work with the concerned doctor to improve the blood sugar levels.
  • Drink enough water i.e., 8 to 10 glasses per day
  • Brush teeth at least two times a day.
  • Floss day-to-day to get excess food bits out of mouth, avoiding any gum problem and gingivitis.
  • Visit the dentist two times in a year for easy dental cleanings.
  • Quit smoking, drink less alcohol, and chewing tobacco.
  • Make use of a humidifier in home during dryer months of the year.

Your mouth matters! Remember to care for it and don’t overlook signs such as a continuous dry mouth. It’s merely a red flag that something else may be going on, and puts you at a higher risk for other health problems.

Also Read: Know What is Glycosuria – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

When to Contact a Doctor

A person must discuss with a doctor if he or she develops any signs of dry mouth that do not resolve. Diabetes is one of numerous potential causes that a healthcare provider can help discard. In a few cases, medicines might be the reason. In these cases, an individual may speak with a doctor about switching medicines. It is vital not to stop consuming a prescription drug without talking to a doctor first. Book your first consultation with Diabetes expert now.


Diabetic people have a higher possibility of experiencing dry mouth as compared to people without this condition. In a few cases, dry mouth might be due to diabetes medication. On the other hand, other health problems as well as medicines may bring about dry mouth, hence it is not unavoidably a symptom of diabetes. An individual must speak to a doctor if they develop constant dry mouth. The healthcare provider may help determine the cause and propose the best course of action. A dry mouth might be uneasy and may result in dental problems as well as other medical conditions if left unmanaged. A person might exercise some necessary steps to remedy dry mouth at home, however, speaking to a healthcare provider regarding this symptom can be of great help as well. This helps in determining the cause and treatment that is suitable for the person.


Is dry mouth a sign of heart failure?

The side effects a person might experieince by consuming his or her heart failure medicines may involve having a dry mouth. A dry mouth can also be resulting due to a reduced capacity to taste food and drink. With congestive heart failure, few body organs might not receive enough amount of blood supply including the tongue.

Does metformin result in xerostomia?

This may involve convulsions, vomiting, confusion, dry mouth, or sweet-smelling breath. Metformin can interact with several medicines which might have an effect on how either medicine working or give rise to serious complications.

Is dry tongue a sign of diabetes?

Dry mouth in individuals having type 1 and type 2 diabetes is common, however if a person is experiencing it almost every day, he or she must not ignore it. Along with the mouth feeling continually dry, signs of xerostomia can also be: dry, rough-feeling tongue.

Is dry mouth a serious condition?

Dry mouth isn’t a serious health problem on its own. On the other hand, it’s at times an indication of another underlying health condition that demands treatment. It may also give rise to complications such as tooth decay.



 Last Updated on by Dr. Damanjit Duggal 


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