Patient query – L.G from Augsburg

My doctor says I should pay particular attention to oral hygiene because my upcoming chemotherapy often damages the lining of the mouth. What does that mean?

Reply

At present, there is no sure way to prevent inflammation of the mouth lining (oral mucositis) with certain chemotherapy treatments. Even the best oral hygiene is no guarantee of full protection. However, good oral hygiene can limit the extent of the damage and the risk of additional infections. If you suffer from inflamed gums or oral mucositis before your therapy starts, it is very important to see your dentist first.

 

Most people brush their teeth daily, but when the inside of your mouth is sore or painful, it’s tempting to make exceptions. All the same, brushing is important. If you have no oral inflammation yet, good oral hygiene acts as a preventive measure; if you do have inflammation, dental and oral care are very important. It’s best to clean thoroughly with a soft brush and a mild toothpaste that contains no menthol or essential oils. Additionally, rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal, and between meals too if necessary. Experts advise against alcohol-based mouthwashes and camomile tea, which can make your mouth even drier. Instead they recommend sage tea, a saline solution or OPC Mucopads, a special solution for the prevention and treatment of mucositis.

Please ask your doctor whether you can use floss, interdental brushes or an oral irrigator without causing tiny injuries to your gums. This will depend on how much irritation the chemotherapy causes.

 

To protect against dry lips, apply a cream or lipstick that contain fat several times a day. Some therapies reduce saliva production, so you may also need to remove plaque from your mouth regularly with a soft cellulose cloth. Again, regular mouthwashes several times a day are helpful.

If you wear dentures, remove them whenever possible and clean them as thoroughly as always. Pay special care to pressure points, which can easily become inflamed.

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