Coping with Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) in Childhood Cancer

Xerostomia_smSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Xerostomia, more commonly called “dry mouth” occurs when the glands in the mouth and digestive system that secrete saliva for digestion do not make enough saliva, or spit, to keep the mouth moist. Saliva is needed for chewing, swallowing, tasting, and talking, so a dry mouth will make doing these activities more difficult.

Dry mouth often causes dental problems because saliva helps maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth; without enough saliva, the bacteria and other organisms in the mouth grow too quickly. This can cause sores and mouth infections, including an infection called thrush that is caused by an overgrowth of yeast.

Saliva also washes away acids and food particles left in the mouth after eating, which means that a lack of saliva can cause gum disease and cavities (tooth decay).

Xerostomia can occur as a result of various things, including many of the treatments for cancer, including Chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which can cause dry mouth by damaging the salivary glands.

Chemotherapy causes dry mouth by making the saliva thicker, and Radiation Therapy to the head, face, or neck may also cause dry mouth. Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) may also cause dry mouth and mouth sores. Antidepressants, medications called diuretics that increase urination, and some painkillers can also cause dry mouth.

It is important that you take your child to see a dentist before they start any radiation treatment or chemotherapy to check the health of their mouth and teeth. It’s important to schedule this as soon as you can because if they need to have teeth removed, it should be done at least 3-4 weeks before treatment begins so their mouth has time to heal.


Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Dry Mouth on our static page, Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) in Childhood Cancer



About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 11 June, 2016, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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