How to Prevent a Dry or Sore Mouth During Cancer Treatment

Sore Mouth
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When undergoing Cancer treatment a dry or sore mouth is not uncommon. You may even get the feeling that your mouth is 'coated' with something unpleasant. These problems can make food taste different to normal, and quite possibly change the flavour. You might also find that eating your food becomes uncomfortable or even painful. This article aims to offer advice to anyone experiencing this in the hope that the tips it contains may either solve the problem, or at the very least minimise it to a bearable degree.

If you are a patient whose mouth is causing discomfort or even pain, then it is important that you have your mouth checked out by a medical professional in order to rule out other possible causes such as oral thrush (which is a common problem during Cancer treatment and is generally very easy to treat).

Please treat this article as a guideline only, and only follow any advice you discover online after consulting with a medical professional.


General Advice

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Try using a straw as this can make drinking much easier.
  • Use only alcohol free mouthwashes.
  • Practice good oral hygiene by cleaning teeth regularly and using mouthwashes and gargles.
  • Speak to your doctor or nurse regarding specific products for oral care.

Helpful Tips

  • Avoid crunchy, crumbly or rough textured foods as these can be more difficult to eat. You can improve their texture wherever possible by adding sauces, gravies, cream or custard.
  • Incorporate as many soft and moist foods (such as fruits etc) into your diet as possible because these will be much easier to chew and swallow.
  • Avoid substances that can irritate your mouth such as alcohol. For the same reason avoid smoking because this too can irritate.
  • If you are finding solid foods particularly difficult try drinking highly nutritious fluids instead, e.g. soup, milkshakes, smoothies, milk, fruit juices etc.

How to Cope with a Sore Mouth

  • Keep foods and drinks reasonably bland in nature. Spicy, salty or acidic foods and drinks can aggravate a sore mouth. This means trying to avoid foods such as curry, chili, vinegar, crisps, oranges, grapefruits and certain fruit juices.
  • Ensure meals are not served at extreme temperatures which might irritate your mouth. Very hot soups, coffees or teas as well as ice cream straight from your freezer a not a good idea. Try room temperature drinks or 'just' cool drinks instead.
  • Speak to a medical professional about pain relief medication that can be taken before meals to facilitate easier eating.

How to Cope with a Dry or Coated Mouth

  • Make sure you have plenty of fluids, and remember to sip them regularly.
  • Try sucking on ice lollies or even ice cubes.
  • If your mouth isn't too sore you might find sucking on pineapple chunks beneficial.
  • Sugar free gum or boiled sweets can stimulate saliva production and ease the feeling of a dryness.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about a mouth spray or gel that will act as an artificial saliva.

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Comments 4 comments

SimpleJoys profile image

SimpleJoys 3 years ago

I am 9 months past chemo and still have some dry mouth problems. I find drinking plain seltzer water offers some relief as well as a sugar free sports drink (not an energy drink). There are many products available for dry mouth. I even have a chewing gum designed for that purpose. At this point it is thought that my dry mouth is due to the estrogen blocker I will be taking for the next five years.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 3 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Thanks for your input and suggestions SimpleJoys. I hope you are now in remission.


SimpleJoys profile image

SimpleJoys 3 years ago

Yes, I am in remission. It has been a blessing. I hope your Mum is too. Cancer treatment is terribly hard.


mistyhorizon2003 profile image

mistyhorizon2003 3 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands) Author

Really pleased to hear that SimpleJoys. Fingers crossed so far things are looking good for Mum too.

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