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Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)

Dry mouth is a very common side effect of many medications including those that are used to fight cancer. Radiation treatments to the head and neck region may also damage nerves and salivary glands which can lead to problems with dry mouth long after treatments are complete.

Saliva aids in digestion, speaking, chewing and swallowing.  Saliva also contains natural buffers to maintain a healthy pH balance in the mouth, providing protection from tooth decay as well as bacterial and fungal infections.

 

Reduce the discomfort of dry mouth and protect your teeth by:

· Practicing meticulous oral hygiene

· Swishing and sipping water frequently

· Carry water with you and keep water bedside

· Drink frequently while eating

· Choose foods moistened with sauces and gravies

· Use a humidifier

· Using sugarless gums and mints sweetened with Xylitol

· Visiting your Dentist and Hygienist at least every 6 months for preventive care

· Using a lip balm that is beeswax, water or vegetable-based

· Using over-the-counter products designed to help dry mouth

· Using products prescribed by your dentist to prevent cavities

· Breathing through nose and not through mouth

 

What to avoid:

· Dry, salty and sticky foods

· Caffeine, alcohol and tobacco

· Food and beverages with high acid levels (soft drinks, citric fruits and juices)

· Hard candies (like lemon drops) due to sugar content and acidity

· Mouth rinses that contain alcohol, peroxide or phenol

· Lip balms that are petroleum-based

 

For more details, see our brochure, "Cancer Treatments and Oral Health" and visit http://www.aaom.com/patients/treatment-of-dry-mouth-xerostomia/

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