Lifestyle and home remedies

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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, and can increase problems with health of your teeth. Ask your doctor whether you should see a dentist if you experience dry mouth complications.

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 a warm saltwater solution after meals. Make a mild solution of warm water, salt and baking soda. 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. He or she may provide treatments to 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.

Aug. 27, 2015