Dry mouth can be a troubling side effect of cancer treatment. The drugs and radiation that treat the disease can also harm healthy cells in your mouth. They can irritate salivary glands in your mouth causing the glands to make less saliva. Your saliva may also become sticky or thick. This can cause your mouth to feel dry or parched. For some people, dry mouth during cancer treatment is mild. For others, it can be severe. If you suffer from dry mouth, it can make you more likely to develop an infection. It can also lead to poor oral hygiene, and make it harder for you to eat, talk or swallow. Try these strategies for easing dry mouth during cancer treatment: Stay hydrated. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids—8 to 10 cups of liquid daily. Always keep water with you and take frequent sips throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water can help thin mucus and keep your mouth moist. But avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks because caffeine is dehydrating. Also steer clear of acidic drinks and alcohol. They can actually make dry mouth worse. Consider your diet. Certain foods can help keep your mouth moist. Others can make dry mouth worse. Soft, wet foods can help ease the discomfort of dry mouth. Foods to try include: Casseroles, soups and stews Decaffeinated tea with lemon Diluted juices and sports drinks Ice cream, pudding, and gelatin Popsicles and slushes Soft-boiled or scrambled eggs Soft-cooked poultry and fish in sauce or gravy Soft or pureed fruits like applesauce and peaches Smoothies Sugar-free candies and gum Foods to avoid include: Coarse and dry foods, like raw vegetables Dry meats, poultry, and fish without sauces Dry cookies, cakes and breads Irritating or acidic foods, including spicy foods, tomatoes, and citrus fruits Peanut butter or other sticky foods that may cling to your tongue or the roof of your mouth Sharp, crunchy foods like taco chips, pretzels, dry cereals, and granola that could scrape or cut your mouth Change your eating habits. Besides changing what you eat, you may also need to change how you eat. For instance, take smaller bites. Also take the time to chew your food very well. Stick with foods that are cold or room temperature. Hot or warm foods could irritate your mouth. You can also soften dry foods by adding broth, sauce, gravy or yogurt. Sucking on sugar-free candy or chewing sugarless gum during the day might also help. This can stimulate saliva production and help keep your mouth moist. Focus on oral hygiene. Dry mouth can increase your risk of cavities and infections in your mouth. Smoking, chewing tobacco, or drinking alcohol can make these problems and dry mouth even worse. Practicing good oral hygiene, however, can help. Brush your teeth and gums after each meal. Be sure to use a toothbrush with extra-soft bristles. Keep it clean and store it in a dry place. Avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. If you are not at home and can't brush after eating, rinse your mouth with plain water. Try to rinse your mouth several times a day with warm, salted water. Talk with your doctor about medication or supplements. Saliva substitutes can help ease dry mouth. These products act like natural saliva, but they don't boost saliva production. They help replace lost saliva and keep your mouth moist. Saliva substitutes come as sprays, gels and lozenges. There also are medications that can help your salivary glands make more saliva. Ask your doctor if these treatments are right for you. Boost your comfort level. There are a few more things you can do to keep your mouth moist. Apply lip balm regularly. This will keep your lips from getting dry and cracked. Suck on ice chips during the day to ease the feeling of dryness. Use a cool mist humidifier at night. This will prevent the air in the room from becoming too dry while you sleep.