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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Oral mucositis is inflammation in and around your mouth.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to return for tests if your symptoms do not improve within 2 weeks. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
You may lose weight because you are not able to eat. Oral mucositis may come back after treatment. Recurrent oral mucositis could cause scars that make it hard for you to chew or swallow . You could develop a life-threatening infection.
Manage your symptoms:
Oral mucositis usually gets better within 2 to 6 weeks. You can do the following to make your mouth feel better:
- Do not smoke. Smoking can make mouth sores worse. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
- Eat soft, blended, moist foods. Puddings, milkshakes, broths, soups, and cooked cereals are less likely to bother your mouth. Eat food that is lukewarm or cool.
- Do not eat anything that could burn, sting, or scratch your mouth. Examples are oranges, pineapples, hot peppers, potato chips, toast, and alcohol.
- Take small bites, chew slowly, and sip water while you eat. Rinse your mouth with water after meals.
- Rinse with a baking soda or salt solution to remove bacteria and food, and to prevent or treat mouth pain and sores.
- Mix ½ teaspoon baking soda or salt with 8 ounces of warm water.
- Rinse your mouth at least 4 to 6 times a day with this solution. You may rinse with plain water instead if it feels better to you.
- Do not use store-bought mouthwash. It contains alcohol and other chemicals that can irritate your mouth.
Do not smoke:
Smoking can increase your risk for mouth sores or make them worse. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you need help quitting.
- Medicines can help decrease pain or swelling in your mouth. You may also need medicine to prevent or treat an infection. Medicine may be given as a pill, an ointment, or a mouthwash.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Prevent oral mucositis in the future:
- Gently brush your teeth, gums, and tongue after every meal and before bed. Use a soft toothbrush and plain fluoride toothpaste. Let your toothbrush air dry after each use to prevent bacteria growth. Replace your toothbrush often. Ask if it is safe to floss your teeth.
- If you wear dentures, make sure they fit well. Ask your dentist if your dentures can be refitted or if you need new dentures. 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. Wear your dentures during the day only. Soak them in denture solution at night. Ask how to safely clean your gums.
- Eat a variety of healthy foods. Examples are fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Heathy foods give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs, and may prevent mucositis.
- Avoid any food or drug that triggers mucositis. Some fruit, nuts, shellfish, cinnamon, chewing gum, and toothpaste may trigger mucositis or other symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever or chills.
- Your symptoms do not get better within 2 weeks.
- Your symptoms get worse, even after treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911:
- Your heart is beating fast.
- You have trouble breathing.
- You cannot eat or drink.
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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.