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Health Tip: Understanding Mouth Issues During Cancer Treatment

(HealthDay News) -- 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.

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