All You Need To Know About Dry Mouth Treatment In Cancer Therapy

All You Need To Know About Dry Mouth Treatment In Cancer Therapy
14 Feb 2022
7 mins
Table Of Content
All You Need To Know About Dry Mouth Treatment In Cancer Therapy

    Experiencing cracks in the lips, sticky feeling in the mouth, burning sensation in tongue or mouth? These could be the signs of xerostomia, also called dry mouth. Radiation therapy to the neck, face or head and chemotherapy may cause dry mouth. These cancer treatments can damage the salivary glands resulting in a dry mouth. A dry mouth can make swallowing, chewing, and talking difficult or uncomfortable. 


    With radiation therapy, dry mouth can take six or more months to get better after radiation therapy ends. But few people continue to experience some level of dry mouth for more extended periods. With chemotherapy, the dry mouth gets better two to eight weeks after the therapy ends. Let’s talk about xerostomia treatment options and things you can do on your own to manage dry mouth.

    Xerostomia Treatment Options:


    Dry mouth left untreated can lead to gum diseases, tooth decay, infections, and difficulties wearing dentures. Dry mouth treatments and home care can prevent long-term damage from dry mouth. 


    Medication For Dry Mouth


    Medications that help to induce the salivary glands are pilocarpine and cevimeline


    Pilocarpine is the oral drug used in treating dry mouth associated with head and neck cancer radiotherapy. It increases saliva production and can decrease your need for oral comforting agents such as sugarless gum or artificial saliva substitutes. Cevimeline is primarily used to treat dry mouth associated with the condition that affects the immune system, called Sjogren’s syndrome. It may also be prescribed to treat dry mouth caused by radiation therapy.

    Products Used In Dry Mouth Treatment:


    1. Artificial saliva products: These are usually the over-the-counter products available as an oral rinse or spray to help produce more saliva. Products are also available as gel and lozenges. It can moisten and lubricate the mouth and provide relief from dryness and bad breath. Xylitol, carboxymethylcellulose, glycerin, calcium, fluoride, and phosphate are some of the common ingredients of these dry mouth treatment products.
    2. Toothpastes: There are many toothpastes that are specially made for people with dry mouths. Fluoride, sorbitol, and xylitol are the key ingredients of toothpastes for people experiencing dry mouth. People should avoid SLS (sodium lauryl sulphate) containing toothpastes when experiencing dry mouth as this ingredient can increase dryness. Look for these ingredients in the toothpaste you are using.
    3. Lip balm: cracks in the corner of the mouth or lips can occur due to dry mouth. Dermatologists usually recommend a product that contains one or more of the following ingredients for dry and cracked lips. The ingredients are petrolatum, shea butter, titanium oxide, zinc oxide, white petroleum jelly, castor seed oil, ceramides, dimethicone, hemp seed oil, or mineral oil.
    4. Cool-mist humidifier: Use it particularly if you breathe through the mouth at night. It can reduce dry mouth symptoms by adding more moisture to the environment.

    Acupuncture, A Xerostomia Treatment: 


    Acupuncture is a form of alternative treatment that involves the insertion of thin needles through the skin at precise points on your body. It is a part of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine), commonly used to treat pain. Acupuncture activates the part of the brain that produces saliva and relieves the symptoms in dry mouth. A study suggests that people received better relief in acupuncture than the usual dry mouth treatments.

    Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is physical therapy. This xerostomia treatment is a safe and non-invasive procedure. It is used after radiotherapy in patients with head and neck cancer to treat dry mouth. A low-voltage electric current will be passed through the electrodes on the skin to increase saliva production. 

    Eating Hints To Manage Dry Mouth


    • Eat and drink sweet or tart foods. Tart foods can help you make more saliva. 
    • Eat foods that are easy to swallow and chew. Take soft boiled eggs, soups, cooked rice, instant oatmeal, mashed vegetable side dishes, milkshakes, etc. 
    • Try taking sugar-free candies or mints throughout the day. They help moisten your mouth.
    • Limit hot or spicy foods such as chilli and pepper.
    • Try to drink at least eight to twelve glasses of fluid per day. Drink decaffeinated teas, juices, boost, etc.
    • Avoid hard, coarse, and dry foods. Avoid citric foods such as orange, tomato, and grapefruit.
    • Add gravies or sauces to make food moist and easier to swallow.
    • Drinking alcohol, including beer and wine, can worsen dry mouth. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and tobacco products. Learn more about what to eat and foods to avoid during radiation therapy


    Oral Hygiene Tips To Follow If You Have A Dry Mouth


    Brush twice a day. It is better if you brush after each meal. It will help prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay and cavities are common for people experiencing dry mouth. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Soaking the brush in warm water can make the bristles even softer.


    Avoid dental products which contain alcohol. Most of the products often contain alcohol as an ingredient. Look for ingredients while buying. Alcohol-free products are available at pharmacies without a prescription. Floss gently one time each day.


    Rinse your mouth every 2 hours. Mix 1000ml of water with ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to rinse or use a solution recommended by your health care team.

    It’s Time To Visit A Dentist:


    Are you about to receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy?


    Be sure to visit a dentist before the treatment starts. Your dentist will evaluate your teeth, gums, and oral mucosa. He/she may guide you on how to lubricate your mouth and may prescribe medicines and other products to enhance saliva production which helps in preventing infections during your therapy. 


    Written by
    GuruvigneshwariContent Writer
    AboutM.Pharmacy (Pharmacognosy)
    Tags :Xerostomia treatmentdry mouth treatment productsmedication for dry mouth