Does Baking Soda Mouthwash Help Mouth Sores from Chemotherapy?
When battling cancer, the last thing any patient wants is for a debilitating complication to cause further pain, cause stoppages in treatment or delay in their recovery. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens when the symptoms of oral mucositis begin to emerge. Patients who suffer from this chemotherapy side effect often report that it is the most painful of those they experience while fighting cancer, and its impacts can be felt well beyond the extreme physical discomfort it causes.
Rinsing your mouth with a baking soda solution is a common recommendation for dealing with mouth sores from chemotherapy, but how effective is it? Continue reading as the experts at Chemo Mouthpiece™ discuss that very topic.
What is Oral Mucositis?
It is a well-known fact that chemotherapy drugs can do almost as much harm as good while coursing through a patient’s system. A number of unwanted and unpleasant side effects tend to follow a round of chemo: loss of hair, nausea, constipation, neuropathy, rashes, a weakened immune system, and painful mouth sores. The last of these symptoms indicate a condition called oral mucositis, which is typically characterized by ulcers, bleeding, and inflammation in the oral cavity lasting several weeks after a chemo treatment.
This ailment occurs because the chemo drugs used to kill cancer cells are unable to tell friend from foe; they are just as likely to disrupt healthy bodily processes as they are to halt the spread of cancer. This is especially true in a patient’s mouth, where the toxic chemicals attack the mucous membranes, causing lesions to form on sensitive tissues. Up to 40% of patients using a standard dose of chemo will develop mouth sores, while as many as 80% of those on high-dose chemo treatments will see the symptoms.
The effects of oral mucositis extend well beyond oral discomfort, however. Patients who develop severe symptoms may find it difficult or impossible to chew or swallow; many of them are therefore at risk for dehydration or malnutrition, either of which can have a significant impact on overall health and lead to delays in treatment. A study published in the journal Dental Clinics of North America found that more severe cases of oral mucositis lead to longer fevers, a greater risk of infection, additional days of IV nutrition and narcotic painkillers, more time spent in the hospital, and an increased 100-day mortality risk. All told, the economic impact can be in the tens of thousands of dollars for patients, most of whom already face intimidating hospital bills. (Source)
Common Mouthwash Treatments for Oral Mucositis
Though nothing on the market can guarantee the prevention of oral mucositis, some patients experience a degree of relief thanks to over-the-counter products and home-made solutions. The most common of these treatments is a mouthwash, which can come in various forms.
The simplest type of mouthwash, and also the most accessible, would be a saline solution. Another option that is just as effective as saltwater is a home-made baking soda mouthwash; the addition of baking soda can be helpful for reducing the alkalinity of your mouth, as well as removing food debris and keeping tissues moist. This method can also help manage pain, as the natural acidity of the mouth can often irritate sores. Using a baking soda mouthwash is a simple but powerful way to mitigate that acidity. A number of OTC mouthwashes are also available to help clean and protect your mouth while you battle oral mucositis.
Using Ice to Treat Mouth Sores from Chemotherapy
While mouthwashes can sometimes help with the pain and dryness experienced by those with oral mucositis, the fact remains that these treatments are only useful after the sores and inflammation have begun to manifest. In other words, you have to get severe oral mucositis before you can find relief with these products. It would seem, then, that a treatment for oral mucositis that prevents symptoms from appearing at all would be preferable.
Cryotherapy is the method by which the worst of oral mucositis is prevented. The principle behind it is simple – “cryotherapy” refers to the use of cold to affect the body – but it has proven effective at treatment centers across the country. When a nurse hands a patient ice chips or a popsicle to suck on during a round of chemo, it is with the intent of harnessing the power of cryotherapy.
The freezing temperatures of these products shrink the blood vessels of the mouth (vasoconstriction), thereby reducing the chemo drugs’ access to those tissues. However, ice chips and popsicles tend to only cool very limited areas of the mouth, leaving the rest of the oral cavity susceptible. That’s why David Yoskowitz, engineer and cancer survivor, created the Chemo Mouthpiece™.
Simply put, this device is an ice pack for your mouth. It is designed specifically to cool a patient’s entire mouth uniformly during an entire chemo infusion. Just freeze the Chemo Mouthpiece™ ahead of your next treatment, then bring it with you to the cancer center and leave it in your mouth during treatment. This easy-to-use cryotherapy device will shrink the blood vessels of the mouth, from front to back and side to side, keeping away the worst of the oral mucositis symptoms. You should always consult your oncology team to ensure oral cryotherapy is appropriate for your specific chemo regimen.
Oral Ice Pack for Preventing Mouth Sores from Chemotherapy
Of all the many trials that a cancer patient faces, oral mucositis is one of the most daunting, both physically and financially. That’s why it is incredibly important to be proactive in combatting the most severe symptoms before they show up. The Chemo Mouthpiece™ can accomplish that through the application of an innovative, simple and effective cryotherapy device. To learn more about how the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can help you deal with your oral mucositis, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.