Top 10 oral hygiene tips for patients diagnosed with cancer

(BPT) – When undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, cancer patients often suffer side effects that manifest in the mouth. It’s important for patients to get any dental work done in advance of cancer treatments and pay special attention to how they practice oral hygiene throughout the treatment process.

Consider these 10 oral hygiene tips from the experts at to help maintain comfort and oral health for patients with cancer:

1. Visit an experienced dentist

Find a dentist who has experience treating patients with cancer.

2. Use a quality mouth wash

Using a mouth rinse made with table salt or baking soda can be helpful in alleviating dry mouth and keeping your mouth clean.

3. Avoid alcohol

Avoid products containing alcohol as they may 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 health care provider before using them.

4. Skip certain foods

Avoid foods that are spicy, hot, acidic, coarse or abrasive.

5. Brush with toothpaste for sensitive teeth

Brush your teeth with a very soft bristle toothbrush for at least two minutes, two to three times a day. Avoid using toothpastes with whitening agents or tartar control agents. Use toothpaste for sensitive teeth.

6. Floss daily

Gently floss your teeth at least once a day. See your health care provider if you experience excessive bleeding of the gums, as this may be a sign your platelet count is too low.

7. Maintain lip moisture

Keep lips moist with moisturizers. Avoid using Vaseline, as the oil base can promote infection caused from radiation treatment.

8. Wear dentures wisely

If you wear dentures, make sure they fit properly and remove them whenever possible to expose gums to air. Do not wear dentures if you develop severe mouth sores.

9. Stop smoking

Get help to quit smoking.

10. Use technology to learn more

The Oral Mucositis Care app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices, provides educational resources and tips for patients about managing oral mucositis, a common and often intensely painful side effect occurring in cancer patients who undergo radiation and chemotherapy. To download the app, visit the iTunes Store or Google Play and search for “Oral Mucositis Care.” The app also is available on For optimal performance, the latest software versions are recommended.

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