Some cancer treatments and medicines can cause dry mouth.
Symptoms you may have:
You may get mouth sores, mouth pain, cavities (dental caries), or gum disease.
Brush your teeth and gums 2 or 3 times a day for 2 - 3 minutes each time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles.
If toothpaste makes your mouth sore, brush with a solution of 1 teaspoon of salt mixed with 4 cups of water. Pour a small amount into a clean cup to dip your toothbrush into each time you brush. Use toothpaste with fluoride.
Floss gently 1 time a day. Rinse your mouth 5 or 6 times a day. Use any of these solutions when you rinse:
Avoid rinses that have alcohol in them. You may use an antibacterial rinse 2 - 4 times a day for gum disease. Rinse for 1 - 2 minutes each time.
Do not eat foods or drinks that have a lot of sugar in them. They may cause tooth decay. Use lip care products to keep your lips from drying out and cracking. Sip water to ease mouth dryness.
Eating sugar-free candy or chewing sugar-free gum may also help.
Talk with your dentist about:
You need to eat enough protein and calories from other foods to keep your weight up. See also: Eating extra calories when you need them - adults
Tips to make eating easier:
Drink at least 8 - 10 glasses of liquid each day (not including coffee, tea, or other drinks that have caffeine).
Ask your health care provider about liquid food supplements. These can help you meet your energy needs.
Avoid alcoholic drinks. They will bother your throat. Also avoid foods that are very spicy, have a lot of acid or are very hot or cold.
If pills are hard to swallow, try crushing them with some ice cream or another soft food. Ask your health care provider if it is okay to crush your pills. Some pills do not work if they are crushed.
Furness S, Worthington HV, Bryan G, Birchenough S, McMillan R. Interventions for the management of dry mouth: topical therapies. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;12:CD008934. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008934.pub2.
Johnson R, Johnson G. Integrating palliative and curative care strategies in the practice of otolaryngology. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2010:chap 81.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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