Preventing Oral Mucositis: 5 Steps You Can Take to Keep Your Mouth Healthy During Cancer Treatment

Oral mucositis is a common side effect from cancer treatment experienced by many patients. Unfortunately, if you are a cancer patient going through chemotherapy and/or radiation treatment, there is not much you can do to entirely avoid mouth sores. However, while oral mucositis is not entirely preventable, patients can take several steps to keep their mouthes healthy and prevent this condition from becoming severe.

Visit Your Dentist

Oral mucositis can worsen in the presence of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Make sure you see your dentist prior to the start of treatment to address any infections or dental issues you may have. Gum disease, infected or degrading teeth, and even cavities can increase the severity of oral mucositis.

Maintain a Rigorous Oral Hygiene Routine

A strict oral care regimen can reduce the severity of oral mucositis and risk for infection. Brushing your teeth, rinsing, and flossing multiple times a day, particularly after eating, can significantly decrease the incidence of infection. Additionally, patients can sterilize toothbrushes and any other tools going into the mouth to help avoid infection. Start these types of behaviors before treatment. Developing an oral hygiene regimen early on will make it easier to adhere to the routine during therapy.

Stop Smoking

If you smoke, it is strongly recommended you refrain during treatment. Aside from being carcinogenic, smoking during treatment will make it harder for your mouth to heal. You can talk to your doctor about alternative solutions such as a nicotine patch and other cessation techniques.

Maintain a Nutrient Rich Diet and Avoid Irritating Foods

Vitamins and nutrients also play a key role in helping reduce harmful impacts of cancer treatments. Eating fruits and vegetables will provide your body with the vitamins and nutrients needed to help fight infections during treatment. Additionally, it is recommended you start avoiding foods such as spicy, hot, acidic, and coarse textured items that can irritate the lining of the mouth and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Talk to Your Doctor

Working with an experienced healthcare provider familiar with mucositis can make all the
difference in managing symptoms effectively. Make sure to discuss any history of mouth sores or GI related issues with your doctor. Your doctor may recommend specific behaviors to incorporate into your daily routine, or products to purchase, including dietary supplements such as Healios® to include as part of your cancer treatment plan.