What is a Good Oral Care Routine for Chemotherapy?
When dealing with all the many side effects of chemotherapy, it can be easy to overlook the simple need for good oral care. While this may seem like a secondary concern, especially in the face of all the other health challenges a patient is likely to face, oral hygiene is actually even more important to those receiving chemo treatments – not for the sake of pretty teeth or fresh breath, but because of the complications that can arise from an unclean mouth.
One of the most debilitating side effects a cancer patient can face during chemotherapy is oral mucositis, a condition in which the mouth develops painful lesions, bleeding, inflammation, and a lack of saliva that together can make life even more unpleasant for those already afflicted with a serious illness. Luckily, the intense cooling power of the Chemo Mouthpiece™ can provide relief to those suffering from the effects of mucositis. To learn more about our product and how it can help you or a loved one, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.
Keeping Proper Oral Hygiene and Health During Chemotherapy
The need to maintain good oral hygiene begins before a patient’s chemotherapy and extends beyond their final infusion of drugs. Below are some of the major steps in establishing the proper oral routine for someone undergoing chemo treatments.
Get Checked Out Before Starting Chemo
Starting your chemo treatments from a place of good oral health is of paramount importance. What begins as a minor toothache or infection can become something much more severe once the effects of the chemotherapy set in; to avoid this, be sure to visit your dentist ahead of time and discuss your impending chemo treatments. Not only can they offer insight and advice into what changes you can expect for your mouth, but they can also resolve any outstanding issues and ensure that you go into your treatments with as few problems as possible. This can save you significant time and money down the road, as good oral hygiene has been tied to less severe oral mucositis symptoms.
Utilize Cryotherapy During Chemotherapy Infusions
Left unchecked, the drugs used in chemotherapy can wreak havoc on the mouth’s sensitive tissues. Because these chemicals target cells that rapidly divide, the mucous membranes along the insides of your cheeks and lips and along your tongue are vulnerable to attack. As the chemo drugs travel along the blood vessels of the mouth and into these tissues, they break them down, causing the development of painful sores that can make it difficult – or even impossible – to eat, talk, or swallow.
To combat this, nurses and doctors distribute ice chips and popsicles to patients in infusion centers, a rudimentary form of cryotherapy aimed at chilling the inside of the mouth and causing the blood vessels there to contract. By doing so, the toxic chemo drugs have only limited access to the otherwise vulnerable mucous membranes as they circulate through the body; in other words, less of the drugs can get to the area, so less damage is done. However, this method of cryotherapy is far from perfect.
Because ice chips and popsicles only reach a limited area inside the mouth, their effectiveness as cryotherapy tools leaves much to be desired. Instead, try the full-mouth cool provided by the Chemo Mouthpiece™, a specially designed oral ice pack meant to shrink all the mouth’s blood vessels and deliver a powerful cryotherapy treatment when it is most needed. The Chemo Mouthpiece™ can cool the entire oral cavity by as much as 30 degrees, making it a much more potent option than ice chips. Just freeze this simple, easy-to-use cryotherapy device before your next treatment, then bring it with you to experience relief from the worst of your oral mucositis symptoms, potentially preventing them from occurring at all.
Keep Your Mouth Clean During Chemotherapy
Between the open sores in the mouth, the lack of infection-fighting saliva in the area, and the damage chemotherapy can do to the immune system, patients can be very susceptible to infections in the mouth during chemo treatments. This sensitivity makes it all the more important to maintain good oral hygiene practices:
- Brush your teeth after every meal and before bed using a soft-bristled toothbrush and non-abrasive toothpaste.
- Rinse your mouth out every few hours (at least). Homemade rinses can be effective; try adding a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda to one quart of water. This will keep your mouth clean, moist, and free of food debris.
- Avoid tobacco and alcohol (including mouthwashes with alcohol as an ingredient).
- Keep dentures out of your mouth as much as possible, especially if they irritate your gums. Be sure to clean them several times a day if you wear them.
- If flossing is a typical part of your oral care routine, floss gently once a day. If you are not used to flossing, do not start during your chemo treatments.
Following these basic tips can go a long way toward keeping your mouth healthy during this critical time. Assuming there are no serious complications, the symptoms of your mucositis should fade one to two weeks after appearing.
Experience Effective Cryotherapy During Treatments with the Chemo Mouthpiece™
If you or someone you know is undergoing chemotherapy and wants to prevent the worst of their oral mucositis symptoms, know that cryotherapy has been shown to help significantly. While ice chips can provide some relief, the Chemo Mouthpiece™ offers a much more effective way to implement cryotherapy by cooling your mouth uniformly rather than in a few small spots. To learn more about the Chemo Mouthpiece™ and how it can help you or a loved one, visit us online or call (866) 461-7518 today.