August 12, 2013

Dealing With the Oral Effects of Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy helps treat cancer.  It can also cause side effects in your mouth.  The drugs are used to kill cancer cells and your body reacts to them in different ways.  Typical oral problems are painful mouth and gums, dry mouth, burning, peeling or swelling tongue, infection and change in taste.  Your dentist is an important part of your cancer treatment.  Prevention of serious side effects is more likely if you visit your dentist at least a month before the therapy begins.  A dentalcheckup, teeth cleaning, x-rays and treating problems will make your mouth healthy and make it more likely you will stay on your cancer treatment schedule.  

Healthy Mouth 

During chemotherapy:  keep your mouth moist by drinking a lot of water, and use sugarless gum or a saliva substitute.  Brush your teeth and gums with an extra-soft toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste and floss where there is no bleeding.  Avoid alcohol mouthrinses and instead use a solution of 1/4 tsp each of baking soda and salt in one quart of warm water, followed by a plain water rinse.  Sipping liquids with your meals will make eating easier.  Soft and moist foods are easier to swallow.  Spicy or acidic foods can be irritating, and tobacco and alcohol make oral tissues drier.  Take advantage of seeing your dentist if there is anything you are concerned about, since side effects can last for some time even after the chemotherapy is complete.  

Source:  National Institute of Health  

Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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