April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month
April 5, 2017
L5 Awareness Week
April 24, 2017

What Can I Do About Dry Mouth During Cancer Treatment?

Chemotherapy and radiation treatment can cause dry mouth (also known as Xerostomia). Chemotherapy causes dry mouth by making saliva thicker, and thus more difficult for salivary glands to express. This symptom is usually temporary and clears up two to eight weeks after treatment ends.

Radiation treatment to the head, face or neck can also cause dry mouth. Because the salivary glands are more severely damaged by radiation, it make take several months for symptoms to clear up.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to treat dry mouth:

  • Use mouth rinses like Biotene to keep your mouth moist.
  • Ask your oncologist about prescriptions that can help, like amifostine, which reduces the effects of dry mouth; or pilocarpine or cevimeline, which stimulite the salivary glands.
  • Suck on sugar-free candies to help stimulate saliva production.
  • Rinse your mouth four to six times a day with a salt and baking soda solution (mix a teaspoon of salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda with a cup of warm water).
  • Drink sips of water throughout the day.
  • Brush your teeth after meals.
  • Floss gently once a day.
  • Avoid mouthwashes and other dental products that contain alcohol, as alcohol promotes drying.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier, especially while sleeping.