Radiation to the head and neck to treat cancer can result in xerostomia (dry mouth). Xerostomia may be associated with a number of signs and symptoms which can be troublesome for the patient, resulting in an impaired quality of life.


Consequences of xerostomia may include:

(1) increased caries and/or periodontal disease

(2) difficulty chewing

(3) difficulty swallowing

(4) difficulty speaking

(5) oral candidiasis

(6) mucosal irritation, especially with certain foods

(7) difficulty with dentures or other oral prostheses

(8) adverse drug effects from sialogague (drug that promotes saliva flow)

(9) sleep disruption (associated with discomfort of the dry mouth or with urination secondary to increased fluid intake)

(10) nutritional problems secondary to an unbalanced diet

(11) mood disorders associated with frustration, depression and anxiety


The patient's quality of life tends to be affected if:

(1) there are more problems

(2) there are one or more severe problems

(3) the problem is long-standing

(4) there is no good or easy solution


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