Dry Mouth

What causes dry mouth?

  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Oral cancer
  • Aging
  • Tobacco use
  • Dehydration
  • Nerve damage in the neck or head due to injury
  • Diuretics (caffeine)
  • Cold medicine (antihistamines/decongestants)

What happens when people have dry mouth?

  • Less saliva
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Change in tastes
  • Change in smell
  • Frequently thirsty
  • Bad breath
  • Cracked lips
  • Gum irritation

What should I eat when having dry mouth?

When having dry mouth, eat slightly sweetened food, soft foods, and other foods that are moistened and easy to swallow.

Sweet or tart foods

  • Lemonade
  • Sweetened iced tea with lemon
  • Honey

Easy to swallow foods

  • Mashed potatoes
  • Creamy peanut butter
  • Purees/soups
  • Yogurt
  • Refined cereal (cream of wheat)
  • Smoothies
  • Baby food
  • Fruit flavored gelatin
  • Macaroni and cheese

Moistened foods

  • Meals with sauces
  • Meals with gravy
  • Meals with salad
  • Dressing

What should I NOT eat when having dry mouth?

When having dry mouth, avoid sugary and processed foods, fast food, and excess caffeine.

Sugary foods / fluids

  • Regular soft drinks
  • Fruit punch
  • Sweetened ice teas
  • Cakes/pies/cookies
  • Candy
  • Pastries (doughnuts, muffins, bagels)
  • Packaged cereals with marshmallows, honey, additional sugar

Excess Caffeine

  • Energy drinks
  • Coffee
  • Black tea
  • Caffeinated soda
  • Coffee-flavored ice cream/shakes
  • Milk chocolate

Fast food/processed foods

  • Hamburgers
  • Fried chicken
  • Fried fish
  • Hot dogs
  • French fries
  • Pizza
  • High sodium foods/canned foods
  • Potato/corn/tortilla chips

What else could I do when having a dry mouth?

  • Practice good oral hygiene
    • Brush teeth 2-3 times per day
    • Floss in the morning and at night
  • Use lip balm often
  • Avoid mouthwash with alcohol
  • Have water available at all times
  • Use a straw to drink all beverages
  • Do not use tobacco
  • Suck on hard candy (peppermint, lemon, cinnamon)
  • Try to breathe through your nose, not your mouth

When should I call my healthcare provider about dry mouth?

  • If you follow the recommendations and do not feel improvements after 3-4 days
  • If the difficulty to eat and speak increases
  • If the amount of mouth infections or dental problems increases
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