“Dry mouth is also called xerostomia. It refers to a lowering of the quality and amount of saliva. Saliva helps break down food and start the digestion process. It also helps prevent mouth infections and tooth decay by lowering acid levels in the mouth and cleaning the teeth and gums. If there isn’t enough saliva, the mouth cannot clean itself properly and the teeth can lose minerals.
Dry mouth can also cause difficulty chewing, swallowing and talking. Severe dry mouth can interfere with your ability to maintain good nutrition.” – source: cancer.ca
Many cancer organizations share their tips on what helps with dry mouth from chemo. We’ve curated a list of all the best tips. Oh, and you can submit your tips or add comments to tips submitted by others.
"Ask your doctor or specialist nurse about artificial saliva if you have no saliva. This comes as: a lozenge that you suck, a spray, a mouth gel. There are different types of artifical saliva. You might need to try a few to find the one that suits you." - source: cancerresearchuk.org
"There are also some prescription products available to help with a dry mouth. These include artificial saliva sprays (for example AS Saliva Orthana® or Glandosane® sprays), saliva stimulating tablets, and the Biotene® range of products (which include toothpaste, mouthwash and gel)." - source: pancreaticcancer.org.uk
"Keep your lips moist with water based gels such as: Surgi-Lube ®, K-Y Jelly ®, Oral Balance ®, Mouth Moisturizer ® ***If you are not prone to mouth sores you may also try lanolin-based or cocoa butter based lip moisturizers such as Lanolelle ® ." - source: bccancer.bc.ca
"Keep your lips moist with lip salves." - source: rogelcancercenter.org
"To help keep your mouth moist, sip water, juices and other fluids frequently throughout the day. Carry a water bottle, so it is easy for you to sip water frequently." - source: cancer.ca
"Stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle whenever possible, and try to drink at least 64 ounces of fluids every day." - source: headandneck.org
"- Choose soft foods like scrambled eggs, puddings, and ice cream.
- Avoid dry foods.
- Cut your food into small pieces to make it easier to chew and swallow.
- Soups and stews are good options, as long as meats are soft or cut into small pieces.
- Try mashed potatoes and rice instead of crackers or breads.
- Choose canned fruits or applesauce instead of raw fruits.
- Puddings, ice cream, and sorbet are also good options.
- Serve foods with gravy, broths, or sauces. This will make them easier to chew and swallow.
- Season your food with citrus and herbs instead of salt or hot spices." - source: pearlpoint.org
"Rinse 4 to 6 times a day with a mixture of salt and baking soda (mix ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup of warm water)." - source: yalecancercenter.org
"Rinse your mouth as often as you can with one of the following rinses. This will help remove food particles and put a “fresh” taste in your mouth.
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 cup water
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1 cup water
- ¼ tsp. glycerin
- 1 cup water
- soda water" - source: bccancer.bc.ca
"If dry mouth is due to infection, medications for treating the infection may be prescribed such as:
Antifungals: nystatin,clotrimizole, fluconozole
Antibacterials: Mouthwash antiseptic, rinses are the basis of the oral decontamination regimen.
Antivirals: acyclovir (Zovirax®) or famciclovir (Famvir®)" - source: chemocare.com
"Speech therapists who work on the oncology rehabilitation team may help patients with an oral hygiene regimen to address dry mouth. Specially trained in working with the mouth and throat muscles, speech pathologists may also be instrumental in teaching patients techniques on how to swallow, to increase salivary secretions, and to eat and drink without gagging or choking. They often work with other cancer care clinicians on the patient’s diet and pain management routine to craft a personalized plan designed to yield an appropriate outcome." - source: cancercenter.com
"A chemo side effect are mouth sores and dry mouth so the drs told me to eat ice chips." - juliette_spencer / Instagram
"I sucked on ice or frozen grapes, anything frozen and ice cold during my infusion. Yes, I was freezing but it helped. The super cold constricted the blood vessels in my mouth and the chemo didn’t get it too harsh? Not sure if this is true, but it worked for me! I think it’s the same theory with the cold cap so you don’t lose your hair. There was a lady who would keep her hands and feet in buckets of ice water during her infusions so she didn’t lose her nails or get neuropathy" - eliza0328 / Instagram
"Suck ice chips"- source: cancer.ie
"I've been using Biotene toothpaste and mouthwash and it's helping! Food is tasting better too." - amandacan2.0 / Instagram
"Biotene® products (mouthwash, toothpaste and chewing gum that have the pH of saliva) are available without a prescription and can be effective for treating dry mouth." - source: oncolink.org
"New grant will study if acupuncture can prevent xerostomia, or dry mouth, in head and neck cancer patients receiving radiation." - MD Anderson Cancer Center / Youtube
"A traditional Chinese medicine technique, acupuncture involves the gentle, often-painless application of thin needles to strategic pressure points. Acupuncturists may help patients who have not found relief from dry mouth with toothpastes and mouthwashes or prescription medications. A 2011 study published in the journal Cancer found that acupuncture “significantly reduced” dry mouth in the head and neck cancer patients studied and improved their quality of life. These providers may also work with other clinicians who approach dry mouth from a dietary, medicinal and oncology rehabilitation standpoint to enhance patients’ overall symptom management." - source: cancercenter.com
"Acupuncture has been shown to decrease these side effects allowing the patient to be able to swallow, eat and drink normally, protect the health of the teeth and gums and reduce the incidence of infections, pain and swelling in the mouth and throat during radiation therapy." - source: huffpost.com
“- Perform oral hygiene at least four times per day (after each meal and before bedtime).
– Floss once a day.
– The mouth (oral cavity) should be rinsed immediately after meals.
– Dentures need to be brushed and rinsed after meals.
– Only use toothpaste with fluoride when brushing.
– Apply prescription strength fluoride gel at bedtime unless you do not have any teeth.
– Rinse with salt and baking soda solution 4-6 times a day (1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 quart of water).
– Avoid rinses containing alcohol.” source: oncolink.org
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