Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is a troubling side effect caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments on cancer patients. It can be caused by the treatments themselves, or by a combination of treatments alongside things such as medications, or current pre-existing conditions such as dehydration, a fungal infection of the mouth. Treating these conditions as they occur is important to maintaining comfort and a good quality of life during treatments, as they can make simple things such as eating and speaking difficult, and even painful, so it’s important to speak with your doctor as soon as you notice any changes occurring.
Treating Dry Mouth
Alongside your doctor’s recommendations, there are also things you can do at home if you find yourself experiencing these side effects of chemo and radiation therapy. Most include basic oral care, but there are a few on this list that some may not think of when it comes to oral care and the treatment of excessive dry mouth.
- Rinse your mouth with water a few times a day;
- Use a saliva substitute or oral oncology mouthwash;
- Moisturizing gel may act as a moisture coating for the mouth or tongue;
- Use chapstick often;
- Use a cool mist humidifier at night to create mild humidity;
- Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean teeth after each meal and before bed;
- Thoroughly clean dentures and/or bridges after eating, and leave dentures out if you experience discomfort caused by xerostomia;
- Floss very gently with unwaxed floss;
- Avoid alcohol-based mouthwash and lemon glycerin swabs;
- Drink plenty of fluids but limit coffee, tea, and alcohol – try Ovaltine instead