Mouth & Lip Care
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).
The oral mucosa is especially prone to inflammation, due to the rapid turnover of cells in these tissues. Mucositis 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. 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.
For general information from eviQ, 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® (mouthwash, toothpaste and gel) offer a range of products to help maintain and protect your mouth. These are alcohol free (so don't sting or cause dryness), and they contain enzymes similar to saliva that 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. A very soft toothbrush such as Curaprox CS Surgical Toothbrush helps 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 effected) something like TheraBreath® Dry Mouth Lozenges are pleasant tasting and can enhance saliva flow and relieve dry mouth conditions.
A good lip moisturiser is also a good idea - we like PURE Papaya 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 in your local Pharmacy, such as Difflam® sore throat gargle, or a lignocaine gel to numb the area. Pain medications such as paracetamol can be useful, or consult your healthcare 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 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.
If you need advice, please email us or speak to your treating medical team.
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