Here's How You Can Deal with Dry Mouth Caused by Cancer Treatments

by Terrence Mills

One of the side effects of cancer treatments is a dry mouth. This can occur whether you have radiation or chemotherapy treatments. The symptoms could last for several months. Therefore it's a good idea to prepare for the possibility of developing this condition before you begin treatments. One thing you can do is see your dentist before you undergo cancer treatment and have dental work completed if possible. You may also need to see your dentist more often during this time since a dry mouth puts you at a higher risk of developing oral infections and problems with your teeth and gums. Here are some other things you can do to cope with dry mouth when you're going through cancer treatments.

Use Artificial Saliva

You can get artificial saliva from your dentist or a pharmacy. You don't need a prescription to buy it, but it isn't commonly stocked in a lot of stores. You can spray the artificial saliva in your mouth as often as you need to during the day, so you can speak or eat without your dry mouth giving you problems.

Drink Water Often

You should sip water throughout the day too, as the moisture will combat the dryness in your mouth. If you suffer from nausea caused by your cancer treatments, you may find it difficult to drink much water. You can substitute other beverages, but you should avoid those with caffeine, as they could make your dry mouth worse. It's also good to limit sugary drinks, such as fruit juice, because these could lead to tooth decay since you have a reduction in saliva to protect your teeth.

Take Medication

If your dry mouth becomes a big problem for you, be sure to let your doctor or dentist know. Prescription drugs are available that work to increase your production of saliva. One of these drugs might help if it is compatible with your cancer treatments.

Stimulate Saliva

You may be able to stimulate your glands to produce saliva in a more natural way. Try sucking on hard candy. You might also try something tart, such as a lemon drop. Chewing gum could also help since the act of chewing stimulates the production of saliva. Just be sure to choose the sugar free varieties of gum and candy.

Moisten Food

One of the big problems with dry mouth is it makes it hard for you to swallow. It helps if you stick with a soft, moist diet until your condition clears. Add broth, gravy, or water to your food so it is moist. Avoid dry foods such as sandwiches or popcorn that tend to dry out your mouth.

Another problem with having a dry mouth for a prolonged time is the increased risk of developing gum or dental disease. Your saliva plays an important role in keeping bacteria off your teeth. Since your saliva production is reduced, you'll want to watch for signs of dental problems. Be sure to call your dentist, one like Sunridge Landing Dental Care, if you notice bleeding when you brush or if you develop sores in your mouth.