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Xerostomia and the HNC Patient



Xerostomia, "dry mouth", is due to reduced or absent saliva production. It may affect a patient's quality of life and can lead to serious health problems!


Why is saliva important?

Saliva helps keep the mouth healthy. It moistens food to create a bolus and contains an enzyme amylase that breaks down some starches. It protects against gum disease, tooth decay and oral infections first by washing food particles away from the teeth and gums and secondly by containing minerals that help keep teeth strong and resistant to cavities.

What causes xerostomia?

For the head and neck cancer patient, xerostomia is a common acute and late side effect of radiation therapy. Radiation may damage the salivary glands causing reduced salivary output.

How does xerostomia impact health and quality of life?

Dry mouth can cause physical discomfort such as a burning sensation in the mouth, changes in taste and difficulty talking. Furthermore, it may interfere with ability to chew and swallow as well as affecting dental health.



  • Sticky or dry feeling in the mouth or throat
  • Dry or grooved tongue
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Feeling excessively thirsty
  • Saliva that is thick and stringy
  • Bad breath
  • Difficulty chewing, speaking and swallowing
  • A changed sense of taste
  • Problems wearing dentures
  • Hydrate
  • Chew sugarless gum
  • Avoid crunchy, salty, spicy, dry and sugary foods
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Do not smoke/chew tobacco
  • Use a humidifier especially in the bedroom
  • Eat foods that are easy to swallow
  • Try saliva substitutes or oral rinses

What is the incidence of oral complications in HNC patients?

In patients that receive radiation treatments, between 90-100% develop oral complications with dry mouth as the most common. Salivary glands are damaged by radiation affecting their ability to produce saliva. Some of the damage may be irreversible.


Dry Mouth Products & Do It Yourself Saliva Substitutes

FUN TIP: When making your own saliva substitute, try sweet almond oil in the place of food grade coconut oil for a lighter taste.


Do you have any fun saliva substitute suggestions? Please email us at [email protected] 


Salvate™ Home Hydration System


* New therapy solution for dry mouth caused by radiation therapy, medication or Sjogen's syndrome.

* Works as an external salivary gland to maintain fluid in the mouth preventing xerostomia.

Provides continuous comfort from dry mouth, day and night.

Interested in obtaining the Salvate System? Send an email to

[email protected]


Salvate™ Oral Mist Bottles

For patients with dry mouth, these bottles are an easy way to keep the mouth hydrated. Conveniently available in 3 different sizes, 1 oz, 4 oz, and 8 oz. You can keep the bottles where they are most convenient - whether in your pocket, purse or by your bedside table.



NutriSqueeze™ Bottles
for Liquids/Thicks/Soft Spout

For patients on a liquid diet or wired shut, these bottles are perfect. Great for maintaining hydration and nutrition, these bottles improve dietary access and delivery for the patient. Polypropylene screw closure and stem feature one-piece construction to ensure a leak proof seal.


Prescriptions and Ordering

Discover more about our products on our website, including an ordering guide, prescription-order form, product comparisons and clinical research at

If you have any questions or requests, please call us at 1-800-206-8381 or email us at [email protected]. Click here to unsubscribe from future newsletters and other general communications.

Related research details and articles can be found at:


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OraStretch®, Salvate™, Nutrisqueeze ™, CryoJaw™, Helping People Say Ahhhhh! are trademarks of CranioMandibular Rehab, Inc. Dynacleft is a trademark of SouthMedic LLC.





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