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Criscione Family Dentistry | Dentistry and Oncology in Lake Oswego



Dentistry and Oncology


What Can I Do To Keep My Mouth Healthy?

You can do a lot to keep your mouth healthy during chemotherapy. The first step is to see a dentist before you start cancer treatment. Once your treatment starts, it’s important to look in your mouth every day for sores or other changes. These tips can help prevent and treat a sore mouth:

Keep your mouth moist.

• Drink a lot of water.

• Suck ice chips.

• Use sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy.

• Use a saliva substitute to help moisten your mouth.


Clean your mouth, tongue, and gums.

• Brush your teeth, gums, and tongue with an extra-soft toothbrush after every meal and at bedtime. If brushing hurts, soften the bristles in warm water.

• Use a fluoride toothpaste. Talk to your dentist about using a prescription fluoride tooth paste or having custom trays made for home fluoride treatments.

• Don’t use mouthwashes with alcohol in them.

• Floss your teeth gently every day. If your gums bleed and hurt, avoid the areas that are bleeding or sore, but keep flossing your other teeth.

• Rinse your mouth several times a day with a solution of ¼ teaspoon of salt or 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup (8 ounces) of warm water. Follow with a plain water rinse.

• Dentures that don’t fit well can cause problems. Talk to your cancer doctor or dentist about your dentures.


How Does Chemotherapy Affect the Mouth?

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. These drugs kill cancer cells, but they may also harm normal cells, including cells in the mouth. Side effects include problems with your teeth and gums; the soft, moist lining of your mouth; and the glands that make saliva (spit).

It’s important to know that side effects in the mouth can be serious.

• The side effects can hurt and make it hard to eat, talk, and swallow.

• You are more likely to get an infection, which can be dangerous when you are receiving cancer treatment.

• If the side effects are bad, you may not be able to keep up with your cancer treatment. Your doctor may need to cut back on your cancer treatment or may even stop it.


What Mouth Problems Can Chemotherapy Cause?

You may have certain side effects in your mouth from chemotherapy. Another person may have different problems. The problems depend on the chemotherapy drugs and how your body reacts to them. You may have these problems only during treatment or for a short time after treatment ends.

• Painful mouth and gums.

• Dry mouth.

• Burning, peeling, or swelling tongue.

• Infection.

• Change in taste.

• If your mouth is sore, watch what you eat and drink.

• Choose foods that are good for you and easy to chew and swallow.

• Take small bites of food, chew slowly, and sip liquids with your meals.

• Eat soft, moist foods such as cooked cereals, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs.

• If you have trouble swallowing, soften your food with gravy, sauces, broth, yogurt, or other liquids

Call your doctor or nurse when your mouth hurts.

• Work with them to find medicines to help control the pain.

• If the pain continues, talk to your cancer doctor about stronger medicines.

Remember to stay away from

Sharp, crunchy foods, like taco chips, that could scrape or cut your mouth.

• Foods that are hot, spicy, or high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices, which can irritate your mouth.

• Sugary foods, like candy or soda, that could cause cavities.

• Toothpicks, because they can cut your mouth.

• All tobacco products.

• Alcoholic drinks.


Do Children Get Mouth Problems Too?

Chemotherapy causes other side effects in children, depending on the child’s age.

Problems with teeth are the most common. Permanent teeth may be slow to come in and may look different from normal teeth. Teeth may fall out. The dentist will check your child’s jaws for any growth problems. Before chemotherapy begins, take your child to a dentist. The dentist will check your child’s mouth carefully and pull loose teeth or those that may become loose during treatment. Ask the dentist or hygienist what you can do to help your child with mouth care.


Acknowledgments The individuals listed here provided assistance in developing and reviewing all of the publications in this series. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and its partners would like to thank them for their contributions.

Scientific Committee Gerry Barker, RDH, MA University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City, MO Susan L. Beck, PhD, APRN, FAANUniversity of Utah Salt Lake City, UT Marylin J. Dodd, PhD, RN, FAAN University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, CA

Joel Epstein, DMD, MSD, FRCD(C), FDSRCSE University of Illinois at Chicago Chicago, IL Philip Fox, DDS Spello, Italy Deborah B. McGuire, PhD, RN, FAAN University of Maryland Baltimore, MDDouglas E. Peterson, DMD, PhD

University of Connecticut Farmington, CT Mark M. Schubert, DDS, MSD University of Washington Seattle, WA John R. Wingard, MD University of Florida Gainesville, FL


Lake Oswego Dentist | Dentistry and Oncology. Michael Criscione is a Lake Oswego Dentist.