Cancer treatment can be rough on your body, including a side effect of dry mouth. The very best thing you can do is take steps to prevent and reduce dry mouth as much as possible. Here are some tips for managing dry mouth, and mouth sores:
If you can, see your dentist before cancer treatment begins, especially for a cleaning and fluoride treatment to help avoid cavities. After treatment, see your dentist on a regular basis. Tell your dentist when you’ll begin treatment, and what type of treatment (chemo, radiation) you’ll have. If you wear dentures, see your prosthodontist for issues related to proper fitting.
Avoid tobacco, alcohol, and products like most mouth washes that contain alcohol. (Biotene is an alcohol-free mouthwash made especially for dry mouth. They also make a mouth moistening gel.)
Use a soft bristle toothbrush. Run the bristle under hot water to make them even softer. Make sure you’re changing your toothbrush every three months, or if it falls on the floor, touches something dirty, etc. Oral sponges may an option if your mouth is extra sensitive.
Floss, but do it gently.
Drink plenty of fluids. Water is best. Avoid all types of carbonated drinks. If you drink fruit juice, water it down. During mouth sores, the juice may be too intense, and by watering it down, it will be easier on your mouth, and better for your teeth. Sip drinks throughout the day. Fluids are extremely important not only for dry mouth, but for any cancer treatment. They’ve done the job, now flush them out of your system.
Rinse your mouth out several times a day with one-quarter teaspoon of baking soda and one-eighth teaspoon of salt dissolved in one cup of warm water. In the midst of mouth sores, I did this every hour, and took medicated mouthwash three or four times a day. My mouth sores where minor, and gone relatively quickly. I caught them right away—when I thought they may be mouth sores, but not sure. . . . I called my oncologist and immediately began taking prescribed mouthwash, and rinsing with baking soda, salt and warm water.
Avoid breathing through your mouth. It dries out the mouth. Breath through your nose if you can.
Talk to your doctor about a zinc supplement. If you have a funny taste in your mouth, zinc may help. Ask your doctor first, to make sure it doesn’t interfere with your treatment.
For more on Dry mouth, see the post: Dry Mouth During Cancer