How Dry Mouth Occurs

Learn about dry mouth from a patient.

Why Is My Saliva (Spit) Important?2

Saliva plays an important role in your overall oral health:

Cleans and washes away food from your gums.
Helps protect your teeth from decay.
Moistens your mouth and helps you speak, chew, taste, and swallow.
Fights germs in your mouth.
Helps protect the inside of your mouth.

The glands that make saliva are called salivary glands. These are the organs in your body that produce spit. The salivary glands sit inside each cheek, at the bottom of your mouth, and near your front teeth by the jaw bone.

Salivary Glands

How Can Radiation Therapy Affect My Saliva?2

  • Radiation therapy targets cancer cells but sometimes hurts noncancer cells such as those in the glands that produce your saliva.
  • The radiation therapy you receive for your head and neck cancer may damage the glands in your mouth that produce saliva (spit), resulting in dry mouth.3
  • Dry mouth can be a significant and harmful effect of radiation therapy in head and neck cancer patients.

What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Dry Mouth?3,4

  • You may need to drink more water, especially when you eat.
  • It may be hard to chew or swallow food.
  • Food and liquids may taste different to you.
  • You may have problems with your teeth such as cavities, bleeding, or infections.
  • Your spit may look thicker and be brown or yellow.
  • Your voice may sound different.
  • It may be hard to wear dentures.

Dry Mouth Can Lead To Many Devastating Symptoms3,4

Cracked, dry tongue

Tooth decay & cavities

Patient Testimonial

Listen to Cliff share how dry mouth has impacted his life after receiving radiation therapy.