Oral Mouth Care & Mucositis Treatment
Many cancer treatments can play havoc on your mouth. Chemotherapy, head and neck radiotherapy, and some immunotherapies can all cause mucositis (inflammation and ulceration throughout the gastro-intestinal tract).
Due to the rapid turnover of cells in the oral mucosa tissues, they are especially prone to inflammation leading to Mucositis, which can cause debilitating pain and lead to impaired ability to eat or even drink fluids. Other symptoms include altered taste, difficulty swallowing and speaking, dryness, burning and bleeding. Therefore, it is so important to maintain good oral hygiene from the start of treatment and to address problems sooner rather than later to prevent symptoms of mucositis such as mouth ulcers. If you're unsure about your symptoms, or experiencing mouth problems for the first time, it is always a good idea to be assessed regularly by your health care provider to ensure appropriate management.
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For more information from eviQ, a free online cancer treatment resource, click on the following links:
- Managing the side effects of chemotherapy
- Mouth problems during cancer treatment
- Changes to taste or smell during cancer treatment
If you are here in Perth, Rokeby Dental Surgery and Implant Centre have a Cancer Support Service, providing mouth care and advice before, during and after cancer treatment. You can contact them directly or via a referral from your oncology team.
For everyday oral hygiene, Oral7® offer a range of products including mouthwash, toothpaste and gel to help maintain and protect the health of your mouth. Their products are alcohol free (so don't sting or cause dryness) and contain enzymes similar to our saliva which helps to protect the mouth from infection. Denta-Med™ also offers a mouth gel and convenient mouth spray, which can comfort and soothe sore and uncomfortable mouths. Using a very soft toothbrush such as the Curaprox CS Surgical Toothbrush can also help to prevent any further damage to the mouth.
If you are having treatment that has a high risk of mucositis (such as head and neck radiotherapy or high dose chemotherapies), we would also recommend starting a protective agent such as Caphosol® Mouth Wash from the outset. Please note, you should always seek regular advice and assessment from your Doctor or medical team and ensure your management is appropriate. For extremely dry mouth conditions (such as when your salivary glands are affected) something like Oral7® Moisturising Dry Mouth Gum, which is pleasant tasting, can enhance saliva flow and relieve dry mouth conditions.
A good lip moisturiser is also a good idea to nourish and moisturise the skin on our lips as it’s thinner than the skin on the rest of our bodies. We like PURE Papaya Lips as it also contains a natural wax that helps to protect the lips.
For the management of mucositis, we recommend to continue with the above, but to add in a barrier such as episil®, an oral liquid spray which can form a coating and offer relief for up to 8 hours or GelX®, which is a gel that can provide pain relief by forming a protective film. Other products are also available at your local pharmacy, such as Difflam® sore throat gargle, or a lignocaine gel to numb the area. Pain medications such as paracetamol can also be useful or consult your health care professional if you think you may need stronger relief. Antifungal treatments (available in pharmacies) may also be required sometimes, speak to your doctor if you think you may be developing oral thrush.
If you are having treatment with a chemotherapy agent, there is also international guidelines suggesting the use of cryotherapy (or sucking on ice) to help prevent mouth ulcers and other symptoms associated with oral mucositis. Many chemotherapy units will have ice blocks on hand, however, our Hydralyte® ice blocks are also a good option to have on hand in the freezer around treatment days, as a bonus they keep you well hydrated!
Also think of a zinc supplement. Zinc plays an important role in tissue development, wound healing and repair, and features in international guidelines to prevent oral mucositis in oral cancer patients receiving radiation therapy or chemoradiation.
Finally, if you are not suffering from mucositis but just getting a sore throat (eg. from the common cold), something like our Betadine Throat products are antibacterial and can aid in the treatment of sore throat.
Get in touch
If you need further advice on oral mucositis treatments or any of the products available in our gift packs, feel free to contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to your treating medical team.