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Patient Care
Dry Mouth

Radiation to the head and neck area lessens the amount of saliva that your mouth membranes produce causing a thickening of the saliva. Decreased saliva production begins 7-10 days after radiation therapy is initiated, reaching its peak within 2-3 weeks and may persist weeks to months after radiation treatment is completed.

Helpful Hints:
  • Drink frequently and be sure to have liquids available to you. Keep liquids at the bedside and use a humidifier when sleeping.
  • Suck on ice chips or ice cubes that you can make from a favorite drink.
  • Suck on sugar-free hard candy or popsicles or chew sugarfree gum to help stimulate saliva production.
  • Sip beverages between bites of food during meals.
  • Try sweet or tart foods and drinks ie: lemonade to help stimulate saliva production **(avoid if mouth sores are present).
  • Avoid hot, spicy or acidic foods.
  • Eat soft, bland foods or cool or cold foods with a high liquid content ie: ice cream, popsicles, puddings, watermelon, and seedless grapes. Adding gravies, sauces, melted butter, broths, mayonnaise, yogurt, or salad dressing to solid foods may make them easier to swallow.
  • Try a pureed or full liquid diet with fruit juices or nectars. Liquid protein drinks high in protein and calories may also be an option.
  • If secretions become thick, drink a salt & soda mixture of one quart of water with one teaspoon of salt and one of baking soda or try drinking Club Soda.
  • Avoid breathing through your mouth.
  • Inspect your mouth every morning for white patches.
  • Avoid tobacco and alcohol.
  • Brush your mouth and teeth frequently with Q very soft bristled toothbrush. do not use commercial mouthwashes because they contain alcohol. You may make your own mouthwash by mixing: 1 quart of warm water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 2 teaspoon of salt.
  • May purchase artificial saliva

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