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Mouth Care for the Cancer Patient

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 5, 2024.

Why is mouth care important during and after cancer treatment?

Mouth care is important because it prevents and treats common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. A dry mouth, an altered sense of taste, and mouth sores can make it hard for you to eat, swallow, or talk. Mouth sores could lead to a life-threatening infection. Mouth sores could also delay your treatment or make it less effective. Mouth care can decrease pain and help keep your treatment on schedule. It can also improve your quality of life and ability to eat.

What can I do to help prevent side effects before treatment begins?

Make an appointment with your dentist or the oncologic dentist at your treatment center. Tell him about your dental history, your cancer diagnosis, and your treatment plan. He can then treat existing dental problems that could make side effects more painful.

How do I brush and floss my teeth safely?

Why do I need to rinse my mouth with a baking soda or salt solution?

Rinsing removes bacteria and food, and prevents or treats dry mouth, thick, sticky saliva, and mouth sores.

How do I prevent or treat a dry mouth?

How do I prevent or treat thick, sticky saliva?

How do I prevent or treat mouth sores?

What mouth care do I need if I wear dentures?

It is still important to clean your gums and mouth if you wear dentures. If your dentures do not fit well, you may not want to wear them during chemotherapy treatment. Be extra careful when you put in or remove dentures. Try to prevent any injuries to your gums that could lead to sores or infection. Soak your dentures in denture solution at night to keep them free from bacteria.

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.