Cancer treatment can cause side effects in your mouth. A dental checkup before treatment starts can help prevent painful mouth problems. A dentist will help protect your mouth, teeth, and jaw bones from damage caused by head and neck radiation and chemotherapy. Children also need special protection for their growing teeth and facial bones. Serious side effects in the mouth can delay, or even stop, cancer treatment. To fight cancer best, your cancer care team should include a dentist.
How to Protect Your mouth during cancer treatment
Brush gently, brush often
Floss gently and do it daily
Keep your mouth moist
Eat and drink with care
Stop using tobacco
Tips to help you care for mouth problems
Sore Mouth, Sore Throat
To help keep your mouth clean, rinse often with 1/4 teaspoon of salt or 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup (8 ounces) of warm water. Follow with plain water rinse. Ask your cancer care team about medicines that can help with the pain.
Rinse your mouth often with water, use sugar-free gum or candy, and talk to your dentist about saliva substitutes.
Call your cancer care team right away if you see a sore, swelling, bleeding, or a sticky, white film in your mouth.
Your cancer care team can help by giving you medicines to numb the pain from mouth sores and showing you how to choose foods that are easy to swallow.
If your gums bleed or hurt, avoid flossing the areas that are bleeding or sore, but keep flossing other teeth. Soften the bristles of your toothbrush in warm water.
Stiffness in Chewing Muscles
Three times a day, open and close your mouth as far as you can without pain. Repeat 20 times.
Rinse your mouth after vomiting with 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup of warm water.
Brush your teeth after meals and before bedtime. Your dentist might have you put fluoride gel on your teeth to help prevent cavities.
When Should You Call Your Cancer Care Team About Mouth Problems?
Take a moment each day to check how your mouth looks and feels.
Call your cancer care team when
Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research