MultiCare Health System

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Cancer

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth occurs when there is not enough saliva in the mouth. It can be caused by breathing through the mouth, or it may be a side effect of medicine, radiation therapy to the head and neck, or dehydration. Here are some ways to avoid and/or relieve dry mouth:

What the Patient Can Do:
  • Drink 8 to 12 cups of liquid a day, and take a water bottle with you when you leave home.
  • Use a straw to drink liquid.
  • Take small bites and chew food completely.
  • Eat soft, moist foods that are cool or at room temperature. Try using a blender to puree fruits and vegetables, soft-cooked chicken and fish, well-thinned cereals, popsicles and slushies. Avoid food that sticks to the roof of your mouth.
  • Moisten foods with broth, soup, sauces, gravy, creams, butter or margarine.
  • Suck on sour lemon drops, frozen grapes, popsicles or ice chips. (Avoid chewing ice, as it can damage teeth.)
  • Keep your mouth clean. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush, rinse your mouth before and after meals with plain water or a mild mouth rinse (made with one quart of water, one-half to one teaspoon of salt, and one teaspoon of baking soda); and floss regularly. It is a good idea to gently brush your tongue, as well.
  • Avoid commercial mouthwashes, alcoholic and acidic beverages, and tobacco.
  • Stay away from caffeine drinks such as coffee, tea, colas and chocolate.
  • Use a cool mist humidifier to moisten room air, especially at night. (Be sure to keep the humidifier clean to avoid spreading bacteria or mold in the air.)

   Recommended  Foods that May Cause Distress
 High Protein
 Meats, poultry, and fish in sauces and gravies; casseroles, soups and stews
 Dry Meats, Poultry and fish without Sauces
 Breads, Cereals, Rice and Pasta
 Bread, soft rolls, cooked and cold cereals, cereal with milk, rice soaked in gravy, sauce, broth or milk
Dry breads, hard rolls, pasta, rice, pretzels, chips, cereal
 Fruits & Vegetables
 Canned and fresh fruits that have a lot of moisture, such as oranges and peaches, vegetables in sauce
Bananas, dried fruit, vegetables, unless in a sauce or with a high moisture content
 Beverages, Desserts and Misc.
 Club soda, hot tea with lemon, fruit-aides, diluted juices, sports drinks, commercial liquid nutrition supplements, homemade milkshakes, ice cream, sherbet, pudding, butter, margarine, salad dressing, sour cream, half and half
Cookies, cake, pie, unless soaked in milk