Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy can result in the patient developing sore mouth (oral mucositis). Sore mouth is a condition whereby the lining of the mouth is inflamed. Sore mouth can be minor (some mouth or gums redness) or it can be more severe (with painful ulcerations that make it difficult to eat and talk). These patients will thus need to regularly use mouth washes to prevent sore mouth due to their cancer treatments.
Mouth Washes for Sore Mouth Due to Cancer Treatments – What Are The Requirements?
What makes a mouth wash suitable for cancer patients to avoid or combat sore mouth? There is essentially just a basic requirement – it should be alcohol-free. This is because alcohol can cause drying and painful, stinging sensations if there are mouth ulcers. Some mouth washes available in Singapore that may be suitable for cancer patients include the following (in no particular order):
Listerine® Zero has a less intense mint flavour and is alcohol-free. It is said to kill 99.9% of germs, and has an “unique formula with 4 Essential Oils” to deeply penetrate plaque to kill bacteria. Available at Guardian and other retailers in Singapore.
The Colgate® Plax line of mouth washes are alcohol free. They kill over 99% of bacteria and helps control bad breath when used twice daily. Being alcohol-free, they leave no burning taste. The Plax line offers a choice of flavours – Fruity Fresh, Bamboo Charcoal, Peppermint, and more. They are available from various retailers including Shopee and Lazada.
Oral-B® 7 Benefits Mouthwash
The 7 Benefits mouthwash from Oral-B® is alcohol-free. The 7 listed benefits of this mouthwash are “freshen breath”, “reduces 99% bacteria”, “fight plaque, reduce bacteria accumulation”, “Strengthen enamel”, “prevent cavities”, “clean teeth”, and “protect healthy gums”. Available from various retailers including online from Watsons.
Why Does Cancer Treatment Cause Sore Mouth?
Our mouth and throat (stomach and intestines too) have a lining called the “mucosa”. It comprises cells that divide and grow rapidly. These cells can be destroyed by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In fact, over 40% of patients undergoing chemotherapy will develop sore mouth. For patients undergoing radiation therapy, those receiving radiation to the salivary glands, head and neck region, or to the whole body are at higher risk of developing sore mouth. In addition, infections, which can be more common in cancer patients, can also cause sore mouths. Good oral hygiene is thus essential for cancer patients to avoid sore mouths and maintain their quality of life.
Good Oral Care Regimen For Cancer Patients
Here are 9 tips for preventing or managing sore mouth:
- Rinse the mouth before and after meals, and at bedtime. If the patient’s mouth is sore, rinsing can be done hourly using salt water rinse.
- Use salt water rinse (around half teaspoon salt to 250mls of water), or mouth rinses as may be recommended by the doctor or nurse.
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush. Alternatively, sponge swabs can be used if it proves painful using a toothbrush.
- Use a water-based mouth moisturizer to prevent mouth dryness.
- Use lip balm or moisturizer to prevent lip dryness.
- Do not use whitening toothpastes with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide can irritate to sore mouths.
- Avoid flossing if it causes pain or bleeding
If Sore Mouth Impedes Food Intake…
Cancer patients might require additional nutritional supplements to make up for nutrient deficiencies resulting from difficulties in eating.
This article is informative only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.