Cancer can be a real challenge and oral care during this time can add to the overwhelming experience. Although most mouth problems will slowly improve, taking care of your teeth, gums, and mouth before, during and after treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, is essential to your long-term oral health.
We’ve put together a guide explaining the oral changes, including a Dry Mouth, you may experience during your treatment journey and provided tips to best manage these. This information will arm you with the knowledge to confidently manage your oral health throughout your journey.
How cancer treatment affects the mouth?
Cancer treatment can affect the teeth, gums, salivary glands, and mouth, in variety of ways:
Mouth Sores and Infections
Chemotherapy and targeted drug therapy may damage healthy cells, mucosal tissues and reduce your immune system’s ability to fight off infection. This may result in mouth sores, ulcers, and infections.
Radiation in the Head and Neck region can injure the nerves required for correct swallowing. Swallowing can also become more challenging due to the presence of mouth sores.
Difficulty Speaking and Eating
Cancer surgery around the head and neck can affect the facial muscles, causing challenges when chewing, eating, or speaking.
Radiation and chemo can temporarily or permanently damage the salivary glands, in turn reducing the amount of saliva produced, resulting in Dry Mouth. This can further exacerbate difficulty swallowing/eating.
Oral Health Tips for Cancer Patients
Protect Your Teeth
Plaque accumulation usually increases, and your mouth may feel more tender than usual. Cleaning your teeth twice daily with an Extra Soft Toothbrush e.g Colgate Cushion Soft, Caredent 10K Supersoft a high fluoride e.g Colgate Neutrafluor 5000, mild, non-irritating e.g cloSYS Sensitive toothpaste protects your teeth from tooth decay. A Power Toothbrush with Extra Soft Replacement Heads can be used; however, some find the vibrations too harsh.
Keep Your Mouth Clean
Mouth cleanliness is essential, particularly if you experience dry mouth, mouth sores or infections. Rinsing your mouth when you wake, after eating, drinking and again at bedtime will help remove harmful bacteria which can result in tooth decay, gum disease and mouth infections. Use warm salt water throughout the day and cloSYS Ultra-Sensitive Mouthwash morning and night.
Keep Your Mouth Moist
Saliva is your mouth’s natural defence against many oral problems. Dry Mouth increases your susceptibility to tooth decay, mouth sores and infections. Keeping your mouth moist is essential to reduce problems with your mouth. Use Xylimelts Oral Adhering Discs to provide long lasting relief throughout the day and night.
Make Speaking and Swallowing Easier
Speaking and swallowing can become a significant hurdle, especially if symptoms of Dry Mouth, Mouth sores and tenderness are experienced. GC or Oracoat Dry Mouth Gel and Ekulf Dry Mouth Lozenges can assist alleviating these concerns, providing immediate relief to reduce the challenges with speech, swallowing, and eating.
Piecing It together
We understand there is a lot to digest. Our easy-to-follow Downloadable Booklet details the Oral Care Tips and Products recommended throughout your cancer treatment journey. Even better, we have put our Oncology Oral Care Bundle includes all our professional product recommendations neatly together in one pack.
How can House of Mouth™ Help?
As Oral Health Experts we understand the side effects of cancer treatment like radiation and chemotherapy and the possible impact on long term Oral Health. Our aim is to provide you with personalised oral care advice and access to our range of professional products to help best manage any associated side effects through our Dry Mouth Range. Take comfort in knowing we’re here throughout every step of your journey – reach out today and we’ll be more than happy to assist.