A Guide to Easing Dry Mouth in Hospice Patients


Dry mouth can be caused by mouth breathing, the use of oxygen, medication side effects, and some treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation. This uncomfortable symptom can lead to cracked, chapped lips and a sore mouth and gums. Saliva can appear thick and whitish. Dry mouth makes it difficult to swallow and even hard to speak clearly.

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What You Can Do

  • Clean mouth and lips with a soft toothbrush or mouth sponge in the morning and after meals. Avoid alcohol-based rinses. Try a solution of 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in warm water to rinse mouth with frequently.
  • Use ice chips freely.
  • Eat soft cold, bland foods such as popsicles, frozen juices, ice cream or jello if able.
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco products, hard rough foods such as pretzels, toast
  • Avoid citrus juices if they are irritating.
  • Try chewing gum or hard candy.
  • Use non petroleum based lip balm.
  • Ask your hospice care team about using artificial saliva products.

Let your Hospice Care Team Know If

  • You have an increase in mouth pain or soreness.
  • You have any areas of irritation or sores.
  • You have redness, white patches or pinpoint dots in your mouth or on your tongue.
  • You have bleeding gums.

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