Purpose: Patients who have received irradiation therapy on the head and neck area are known to suffer from reduced saliva flow and may therefore use acidic candies to relieve symptoms of dry mouth. However, such acidic candies have erosive potential even among healthy individuals. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to determine if calcium-modified acidic candies have reduced erosive potential in irradiated cancer patients.
Materials and methods: Nineteen cancer patients (26 to 70 years) ipsilaterally irradiated on the head and neck area sucked control and calcium-modified acidic candies, while their whole saliva was collected into a closed system. The erosive potential of both candies was evaluated from saliva degree of saturation with respect to hydroxyapatite and by dissolution of hydroxyapatite (HAp) directly in candy-stimulated saliva. The results were compared to normative data that were previously obtained on 20 healthy test persons (21 to 29 years).
Results: No significant difference was obtained in the saliva flow rates between control and calcium-modified candy. However, the saliva became significantly less undersaturated with respect to HAp when sucking calcium-modified compared to control candy (P < 0.001) and more undersaturated for both candies in ipsilaterally irradiated cancer patients compared to normative data (P < 0.001). HAp dissolution was found to be significantly lower in patients sucking the modified candy compared to the control candy (P < 0.01) and, surprisingly, slightly lower in patients compared to normative data.
Conclusions: Modified acidic candy with calcium has reduced erosive potential in patients irradiated on the head and neck area and could therefore be used as a favourable stimulant for relief of dry mouth.