HealthSheets™


Mouth Care During Chemotherapy

Man preparing to brush his teeth.
Brush gently with an extra soft toothbrush and mild toothpaste.
Mouth sores (stomatitis) and dry mouth are common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. These side effects occur because these treatments affect normal cells as well as cancer cells. Using the tips on this handout may help you feel better.

 Remedies that help

  • Rinse with 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt mixed in 1 quart of warm water. Swish and spit. This helps keep your mouth free of germs.

  • Use products that coat and protect the mouth and throat. Or use medicines that coat and soothe mouth sores themselves.

  • Numb your mouth and throat with special sprays or lozenges to make eating easier.

Prevent mouth sores

  • Buy an extra soft toothbrush and mild toothpaste.

  • Gently brush your teeth and gums.

  • Have your dentist treat any dental problems before your therapy begins.

Moisten a dry mouth

  • Drink plenty of water. Take frequent sips or suck on ice chips.

  • Suck on sugar-free candy and lozenges. Chew sugar-free gum.

  • Use products that moisten the mouth if your doctor prescribes them.

  • Apply lip balm to help prevent dry lips.

  • Don't use mouthwash that contains alcohol.

Choose foods less likely to irritate

Try foods that are:

  • Soft and go down smoothly, such as a milkshake or food puréed with a blender

  • Served cold or at room temperature

  • Cooked until tender and cut into small pieces

Don't eat foods that are:

  • Sharp or crunchy

  • Hot, salty, or spicy

  • Acidic, such as citrus juices

When to seek medical advice

See your healthcare provider if:

  • You develop mouth sores

  • Mouth pain keeps you from eating or resting

© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell