Natural Foods for Dry Mouth
Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, can cause serious problems that affect the enjoyment of food and the condition of the mouth. Without saliva, food and bacteria linger in the mouth, accelerating tooth decay. In addition, lack of saliva alters the taste of food and prevents the start of digestion. There are numerous causes of a dry mount including medication, cancer therapy, and Jorgen’s Syndrome, according to academic papers published on the University of Chicago at Illinois website In addition to medication, treatment also includes altering the diet with natural foods.
The American Cancer Society recommends drinking 8 to 10 cups of liquids a day when suffering from a dry mouth. It is especially important to drink liquids during meal times. The chosen liquids should be sugar free, given the propensity for tooth decay with dry mouth. Water is the preferred beverage, according to the University of Illinois at Chicago, but sugar free juices, caffeine free diet soda, sports drinks, club soda, and decaffeinated hot tea with lemon are also acceptable. Folks with a dry mouth may have less of a desire to eat due to the taste changes, and the American Cancer Society suggests nutritional supplements or milkshakes to help meet needs while keeping the mouth moist.
- The American Cancer Society recommends drinking 8 to 10 cups of liquids a day when suffering from a dry mouth.
- Folks with a dry mouth may have less of a desire to eat due to the taste changes, and the American Cancer Society suggests nutritional supplements or milkshakes to help meet needs while keeping the mouth moist.
Soft Foods, Moist Foods
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The American Cancer Society says to eat soft foods with xerostomia. It also suggests that foods be eaten at room temperature. Examples of soft natural foods for people with a dry mouth include tender meats, chicken, and fish, smooth peanut butter, cream soups, strained soups, cottage cheese, yogurt, canned fruits, soft cooked/blended vegetables, mashed potatoes, soft cooked pasta, cooked cereals, ice cream, pudding, popsicles, smoothies and slushies. The American Cancer Society also suggests using gravies, sauces, and broth to add moisture to foods to ease swallowing.
- The American Cancer Society says to eat soft foods with xerostomia.
- The American Cancer Society also suggests using gravies, sauces, and broth to add moisture to foods to ease swallowing.
Foods That Stimulate Saliva
According to Sjorgen’s Syndrome Foundation, sugar free candies, sugar free gum, diabetic candies, fruit pits of the cherry or olive and lemon rinds can help stimulate saliva. They recommend foods sweetened with xylitol, which has been shown to help prevent tooth decay. The American Cancer Society also suggests lemon drops to stimulate saliva.
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- University of Maryland Medical Center: Dry Mouth
- University of Illinois and Chicago: Xerostomia
- American Cancer Society: Dry Mouth or Thick Saliva
- Treating the Causes of Oral Dryness
- GICare: Soft/Mechanical Soft Diet
- Jorgen’s Syndrome Foundation: Simple Solutions for Dry Mouth
- American Dental Association (ADA). Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). Department of Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute. Updated July 9, 2019.
- Bartels C. Xerostomia. The Oral Cancer Foundation. Updated October 15, 2018
- Barnhart MK, Robinson RA, Simms VA, et al. Treatment toxicities and their impact on oral intake following non-surgical management for head and neck cancer: a 3-year longitudinal study. Support Care Cancer. 2018;26(7):2341-2351. doi:10.1007/s00520-018-4076-6
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Candida Infections Of The Mouth, Throat, And Esophagus | Fungal Diseases | CDC. National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED). Updated November 13, 2019.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus, & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Xerostomia. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- Rusthen S, Kristoffersen AK, Young A, Galtung HK, Petrovski BÉ, Palm Ø et al. Dysbiotic salivary microbiota in dry mouth and primary Sjögren's syndrome patients. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 18;14(6):e0218319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218319.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Dry Mouth. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- American Dental Association. Dry Mouth. Mouth Healthy. Updated January 2019.
- Men K, Geng H, Zhong H, Fan Y, Lin A, Xiao Y. A deep learning model for predicting xerostomia due to radiotherapy for head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma in the RTOG 0522 clinical trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2019 Jun 12. pii: S0360-3016(19)30834-X. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.06.009.
- National Institutes of Health. Dry Mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Updated January 2019.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.