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Dry Mouth (xerostomia)

Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2010

My wife sue has dry mouth as a result of radiation treatment of the pharangeal area of the throat. Is anyone familiar with this situation???
Can send information directly SIGardener@aol.com
Will be on periodically.

shine1113's picture
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Charles!

I'm an eleven-year survivor of nasopharyngeal carcinoma. I underwent 40 sessions of external radation (cobalt) and 3 sessions of internal radiation (brachytherapy). I experienced dryness in the oral cavity throughout my treatment which affected my salivary glands. Back then, I took medicated lozenges to alleviate dryness (temporarily, though) and used a gargle of 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in water. Aside from these, I increased my water intake. Consequent to "dryness" due to marked decrease in saliva production, I had difficulty swallowing food and had to resort to a soft diet --- light soup, veggie juice, fruit juices that do not cause a "sting" in the throat. I supplemented my diet with vitamin drinks.

My salivary glands didn't recover from effects of the treatment so I'm highly dependent on water to aid in swallowing and digesting food. I always have a glass of water beside me when at home and I carry a bottle of water when I'm out.

I'll end here, for now. Be assured of my prayers for your wife's recovery and for everyone in your family who are lovingly caring for her. God is with you in this tough ride.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006


There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter oral hygiene products available that are designed specifically to help combat dry mouth, including both toothpastes and mouth washes. You can probably find such items at your local pharmacy and if you cannot, request that one of your wife's doctors provides a prescription for them.

It happens, as shine indicates, that radiation can have an adverse impact on the salivary glands (and, yes, it is sometimes permanent).

It is also true that this dry mouth can impact not just the ability to eat but also the normal ability of the body to protect against infection and deterioration in the oral cavity (the mouth and throat). It is therefore important that oral hygiene become a significant daily process, if it was not so before.

Best wishes to your wife and her family. If you have not yet done so, I advise posting this in the Head/Neck cancer board as well.

Take care,


appleyellowgreen's picture
Posts: 38
Joined: Sep 2009

Charles - Sorry I didn't read this sooner. It is very, very common. We use an over the counter mouthwash called Biotene. They also have a toothpaste. Use that three times a day (after every meal) with a very soft brush, and use the Biotene rinse during the day as needed. It's great. They also have a chewing gum which I buy when I can find it. Might be easiest and cheapest to go online.
Good luck.
p.s. Make sure the lips are moistened with petroleum jelly - also between the nose and the lip. You can try using Ayr gel in the nostrils (I put it on with QTips) and keep the whole flow moister.
Also...ask your dr. about a humidifier - best would be localized.
OH yes...and water, water, water. Drink like crazy.

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