Dry Mouth During Cancer Treatment? Try These Tips

There are many unfortunate side effects of cancer treatment. One that many patients have the most issues with is dry mouth, as some chemotherapy and radiation treatments can damage the salivary glands. Although, on the surface, this sounds like a relatively minor issue, it can become a major one when it’s a constant occurrence. If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment and you are experiencing chronic dry mouth, there are several things you can do to lessen your discomfort.

  • Chewing sugarless gum or sucking on hard candy without sugar are good ways to combat the dry mouth associated with cancer treatment. This helps stimulate saliva, but always use sugar-free gums and candies as sugar can stick to your teeth and erode the enamel.
  • Make sure to brush your teeth at least two times daily with a soft-bristled brush. If you soak your toothbrush in warm water for several minutes before brushing, this can further soften the bristles.
  • Make sure to floss, but be careful that you do not break the skin on your gums. Bleeding in your mouth is not something you want at this point.
  • Avoid putting any solution in your mouth that contains alcohol if you are having a dry mouth issue due to cancer treatment. Alcohol dries your salivary glands and is completely counterproductive. Avoid mouthwashes and dental rinses with alcohol.
  • Make sure to drink water as often as possible, or as often as your doctors will allow. Staying hydrated not only helps the body heal, but it also stimulates your salivary glands and will be very helpful to you during cancer treatment.
  • Avoid super-spicy foods, sugary foods, and anything that is very dry or of a grainy texture. These can cause your dry mouth to become even more arid.
  • Try using a humidifier at night when you sleep. Breathing in moist air can help and, at the very least, will possibly make your mornings a little less dry.
  • Make an appointment with a biologic dentist. A biologic dentist will focus on the connections between your overall health and your dental health. Be sure to tell the dentist about your cancer treatments.

There are mouth rinses and saliva substitutes available on the market for people undergoing cancer therapy. Ask your doctor, pharmacist or dentist for recommendations. It also may be helpful to search online message boards or social media groups for people in the midst of cancer treatment or those who have successfully completed the process and can share advice.

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