Coping with dry mouth
Radiation therapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma often causes dry mouth (xerostomia). Having a dry mouth can be uncomfortable. It can also lead to frequent infections in your mouth and difficulty eating, swallowing and speaking. You may find some relief from dry mouth and its complications if you:
- Brush your teeth several times each day. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently brush your teeth several times each day. Tell your doctor if your mouth becomes too sensitive to tolerate gentle brushing.
- Rinse your mouth with warm salt water after meals. Make a mild solution of warm water and salt. Rinse your mouth with this solution after each meal.
- Keep your mouth moistened with water or sugarless candies. Drink water throughout the day to keep your mouth moistened. Also try sugarless gum or sugarless candies to stimulate your mouth to produce saliva.
- Choose moist foods. Avoid dry foods. Moisten dry food with sauce, gravy, broth, butter or milk.
- Avoid acidic or spicy foods and drinks. Choose foods and drinks that won't irritate your mouth. Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.
Tell your doctor if you have dry mouth. Treatments may help you cope with more-severe signs and symptoms of dry mouth. Your doctor may also refer you to a dietitian who can help you find foods that are easier to eat if you're experiencing dry mouth.
Sep. 08, 2012
- Flint PW, et al. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05283-2..X0001-8--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05283-2&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed July 24, 2012.
- Head and neck cancers. Fort Washington, Pa.: National Comprehensive Cancer Network. http://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/f_guidelines.asp. Accessed July 24, 2012.
- Nasopharyngeal cancer treatment. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/nasopharyngeal/healthprofessional. Accessed July 24, 2012.
- Rottey S, et al. Modern treatment for nasopharyngeal carcinoma: Current status and prospects. Current Opinion in Oncology. 2011;23:254.
- Hui EP, et al. Epidemiology, etiology and diagnosis of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed July 24, 2012.
- Moynihan TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 12, 2012.
- Hui EP, et al. Treatment of early locoregionally advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed July 24, 2012.
- Dry mouth or xerostomia. Cancer.Net. http://www.cancer.net/patient/All+About+Cancer/Treating+Cancer/Managing+Side+Effects/Dry+Mouth+or+Xerostomia. Accessed July 24, 2012.