What can I do about a dry mouth from radiation treatments?

Radiation to the area around the salivary glands may cause them to produce less saliva. These tips may help, if you have a dry mouth.
  • Rinse your mouth often to remove debris, to stimulate your gums, or simply to moisten your mouth.
  • Suck on ice cubes or ice chips.
  • Use wet gauze sponges frequently to stimulate your gums, or to wet your mouth.
  • Do not use commercial mouthwashes because they contain alcohol, which has a drying effect on the tissues lining the mouth. Use a mouthwash made with salt, baking soda and water (mix 1 quart of warm water with 1 teaspoon each of sale and baking soda).
  • Ask your radiation oncologist or dentist about a fluoride mouthwash or artificial saliva.
Dry mouth is an inadequate flow of saliva and can result from radiation treatment for head and neck cancers.

Increasing fluid intake sometimes can alleviate dry mouth. Your dentist may recommend using artificial saliva to keep oral tissues moist. Other remedies include:
  • sugar-free gum or candy (to stimulate salivary flow)
  • frequent sips of water
  • alcohol-free oral rinses
  • restricted intake of caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages
  • regular dental checkups

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.