Side effect management guide


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Xerostomia also known as dry mouth is one of the most common oral complications present in the patients receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer treatment. Patients with xerostomia often complain of difficulty in chewing, swallowing, speaking and wearing dentures. Lack of salivary flow make them prone to dental caries and other dental problems.

Here are 5 ways to manage Xerostomia

1. Intraoral Topical Agents

  • This include chewing gums, saliva stimulants, and substitutes.
  • The use of sugarless chewing gum or candy-containing xylitol or sorbitol can be recommended to enhance salivary secretions to prevent dry mouth and resulting caries.
  • Small amount of anti-xerostomia dentifrice can be applied on smooth dental surfaces so as to activate intraoral bacterial systems.
  • Saliva substitute in the form of solutions, sprays, gels, lozenges, which can mimic natural saliva and provide temporary relief from symptoms can be used.

2. Frequent Visit To The Dentist

  • Patients should visit their dentist regularly as they are more susceptible to dental problems.
  • Dental hygiene has to be maintained by brushing twice a day and flossing regularly.
  • As dental caries can occur as a result of hypo-salivation use of fluoride and chlorhexidine rinses may also be useful.
  • Denture should not be worn in night and should be kept in water overnight.

3. Dietary Recommendations

  • Avoid sugary, acidic, spicy, excessively hot and cold food that irritates soft tissues.
  • Foods like carrots or celery may help patients with residual salivary gland function.

4. Always Stay Hydrated

  • Frequent sips of water (every 10 mins) is advisable
  • Sucking on ice chips may be helpful
  • Use lip lubricants like petroleum frequently which will alleviate some symptoms

5. Avoid Substances Which Can Act As Irritants

  • Tea, coffee and soft drinks containing caffeine should not be consumed as they act as irritant and dehydrate the mouth.
  • Avoid use of alcohol based mouth-rinses.
  • Avoid Alcohol and tobacco consumption.

Written by Dr Neha Sharma ( Dentist & Public Health Professional passionate to provide quality health education)


  • Villa A, Connell CL, Abati S. Diagnosis and management of xerostomia and hyposalivation. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. 2015;11:45–51. doi:10.2147/TCRM.S76282.
  • Alsakran Altamimi M. Update knowledge of dry mouth- A guideline for dentists. African Health Sciences. 2014;14(3):736–742. doi:10.4314/ahs.v14i3.33.
  • Wong HM. Oral Complications and Management Strategies for Patients Undergoing Cancer Therapy. The Scientific World Journal. 2014;2014:581795. doi:10.1155/2014/581795.
  • Villa, Alessandro, Christopher L Connell, and Silvio Abati. 2015. “Diagnosis and management of xerostomia and hyposalivation.” Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management 11 (1): 45–51. doi:10.2147/TCRM.S76282.
Raghuveer Surupa

Founder, | Raghuveer is an alumnus of IIM Ranchi, who has worked in pharmaceutical industry for over 5 years across various domains. He is passionate about healthcare and founded Dignite with the sole purpose of improving the day to day lives of cancer patients.


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