Cancer treatment can rid your body of malignant tumors; however, it can also harm the health of your mouth. Radiation therapy and a weakened immune system can create oral side effects like dry mouth, gum disease, jaw pain, and mouth sores. Here are a few practices you can follow to protect your oral health while receiving cancer treatment:
- See your dentist before and during treatment. It is important to deal with dental health problems before beginning cancer therapy so they do not worsen during it. Regularly visit the dentist while receiving cancer treatment so they can keep an eye on the health of your mouth.
- Keep good oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing. Be gentle while performing these routines so you do not harm your teeth and gums. Also make sure you use a soft bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Quit the use of tobacco, whether it is smoked or chewed. Tobacco irritates oral tissue and impedes blood flow, making your mouth more susceptible to infection. Also quit alcohol use which can also irritate the mouth and dry it out.
- Your immune system will be weaker when undergoing cancer treatment, making your body (and mouth) more vulnerable to disease and infection. Keep your immune system as strong as possible by eating nutritious foods.
- Using an oral rinse can further strengthen and protect your oral health. Avoid rinses containing alcohol, which can aggravate oral tissue. The National Institutes of Health recommend homemade rinses such as:
- ½ teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, and 4 cups of water.
- 1 teaspoon of salt and 4 cups of water.
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 cup of water.