Skip to Content

Health Tip: Understanding Mouth Issues During Cancer Treatment

-- Radiation therapy or certain types of chemotherapy can lead to dry mouth or thick saliva.

During cancer treatment, the glands that make saliva often get irritated and make less saliva, or the saliva becomes thick and sticky.

The American Cancer Society suggests how to help manage these side effects:

  • Drink 8 to 10 cups of liquid a day. Take a water bottle wherever you go.
  • Take small bites, and chew your food thoroughly.
  • Eat soft, moist foods that are cool or at room temperature. Blended fruits and vegetables, soft-cooked chicken and fish, well-thinned cereals, popsicles, smoothies and slushies are good options.
  • Avoid foods that stick to the roof of the mouth, such as peanut butter or soft bread.
  • Moisten foods with broth, soup, sauce, gravy, yogurt or cream.
  • Suck on sugarless candy or chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva.
  • Rinse your mouth before and after meals with plain water or a mild rinse (made with 1 quart water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda).
  • Use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
  • Avoid commercial mouthwashes, alcoholic and acidic drinks, and tobacco.
  • Limit caffeine.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier, especially at night.
  • Saliva substitutes are helpful if your salivary glands have been removed, or damaged by radiation.

© 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2018

Read this next

Radiation Plus Surgery May Be Best Against an Early Form of Breast Cancer

MONDAY, Oct. 5, 2020 -- Research following patients for nearly three decades finds that surgery plus radiation beats surgery alone for women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)...

Certain Cancer Treatments May Heighten Danger From COVID-19

TUESDAY, Sept. 22, 2020 -- People with cancer are at increased risk for severe COVID-19. Now, a preliminary study suggests that certain cancer therapies may heighten those odds...

Cancer Radiation Can Safely Proceed During COVID-19 Pandemic: Study

THURSDAY, Aug. 27, 2020 -- Cancer patients who need radiation therapy shouldn't let fear of COVID-19 delay their treatment, one hospital study suggests. Over six days in May,...