Many cancer treatments have side effects that can affect the mouth, teeth, and salivary glands. This can be caused by the treatment damaging the cells that line your mouth and throat. Dental and oral side effects can make it difficult to eat, talk, chew, or swallow. Fortunately, with good care, you and your doctor can lower the risk of these side effects and manage them if they do happen. Any damage is usually temporary, and most side effects improve when treatment ends, but sometimes side effects can be permanent.
Some symptoms you might experience are:
- Dry mouth
- Thickened saliva
- Changes in taste
- Mouth sores
- Tooth decay
- Difficulty swallowing
- Bone disease
- Inflammation or pain in the lining of the mouth and tongue
- Gum disease
- Jaw stiffness
People who have good dental health before treatment have a lower risk of these conditions. It is recommended to see a dentist 4 weeks before treatment starts, if you can, this will allow time for any infections or irritations to heal. Your specialist nurse, doctor will talk to you about mouth care during treatment and may also look at your mouth. Make sure you tell them if you experience any of the symptoms above to prevent any infections.
Try this homemade salt mouthwash that will help reduce soreness. (if it is not too severe)
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt too cold or warm water.
- Rinse this around your mouth.
- Then spit it out and rinse your mouth with cold or warm water.
Tips to improve oral health:
Call your healthcare team if you have any of the symptoms below:
- A fever of 100.4 °F (38 °C) or higher
- New redness, sores, or white patches in your mouth
- Bleeding of your gums or mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Pain when you swallow
- Pain that doesn’t get better with pain medication