Top 10 Oral Hygiene Tips
Patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy and radiation may be at risk for Oral Mucositis, a condition characterized by redness, inflammation and ulcer like sores throughout the mouth and throat. Oral Mucositis can be extremely painful and may also lead to infection. The following tips can be helpful in maintaining good oral hygiene.
- Find a dentist who has experience treating patients with cancer.
- A mouth rinse made with table salt or baking soda can be helpful in alleviating dry mouth and keeping your mouth clean.
- Avoid alcohol, as well as products containing alcohol, as these can cause a burning sensation and irritate sensitive areas in your mouth. Certain prescription rinses may also contain alcohol, so be sure to check with your healthcare provider before using.
- Avoid foods that are spicy, hot, acidic, coarse or abrasive.
- Brush your teeth with a very soft bristle toothbrush for at least two minutes, twice to three times a day.
- Avoid using toothpastes with whitening agents or tartar control agents. Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
- Gently floss your teeth at least once a day. See your healthcare provider if you experience excessive bleeding of the gums, as this may be a sign your platelet count is too low.
- Keep lips moist with moisturizers. Avoid using Vaseline, as the oil base can promote infection or burns caused from radiation treatment.
- If you wear dentures, make sure your dentures fit properly and remove them whenever possible to expose gums to air. Do not wear dentures if you develop severe mouth sores.
- Get help to quit smoking.
This list was developed in conjunction with Elizabeth Feldman, DMD, MS, a maxillofacial prosthodontist and dental oncologist from the University of Florida Cancer Center Orlando.