Does Toothpaste Work for Chemotherapy Mouth Sores?
The mouth sores that can emerge after chemotherapy treatments are perhaps the most debilitating side effect faced by cancer patients. The condition, called oral mucositis, is much more than a mere nuisance; a whole host of complications can follow its appearance, some of which could even force a delay in treatments or a reduction in dosage. The ailment carries financial costs as well and can drive medical bills even higher – the last thing a patient needs when battling an already expensive illness.
One remedy that is sometimes mentioned is the use of toothpaste to fight mouth sores from chemotherapy, but does this work? Keep reading as the experts from Chemo Mouthpiece™ answer that very question.
Cause and Symptoms of Oral Mucositis
Part of the cost of chemotherapy treatments is the toll they take on a person’s health. The drugs used to battle cancer are unable to distinguish healthy tissue from diseased cells, and so they attack both with equal ferocity. This causes all sorts of unpleasant side effects, from the familiar hair loss indicative of cancer treatments to the nausea, diarrhea, bruising, bleeding, rashes, and nerve damage that can also plague patients undergoing chemotherapy – and, of course, there is the oral mucositis.
When the toxic chemo drugs reach the sensitive tissues of the mouth, they cause the mucous membranes to break down, leading to sores, bleeding, and inflammation throughout the oral cavity. This condition affects as many as 40% of patients receiving standard chemotherapy doses and up to 80% of those receiving high-dose chemotherapy. (Source) Oral mucositis has proven to be virtually impossible to prevent, though a number of products on the market claim to help treat its symptoms, lessening the pain and warding off the worst of the complications. These treatments can vary widely in terms of effectiveness, however.
Treating Chemo Mouth Sores with Toothpaste
Some anecdotal evidence has emerged in recent years suggesting that toothpaste may provide some relief for those suffering from oral mucositis, but there is little to no scientific merit to these claims. While there may be a handful of instances where it has helped a specific patient to some extent, the majority of those suffering from mouth sores would be much better served by pursuing other options.
It should be noted, however, that toothpaste can help in another, less direct capacity: maintaining oral hygiene. When a person has open wound in their mouth, such as the sores indicative of oral mucositis, they are naturally prone to infections that can further complicate their recovery. It is important for patients to continue brushing their teeth during this time in order to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth, thereby helping to stave off infections. Try to use a fluoride toothpaste for this, though you may also need to buy an especially soft-bristled toothbrush to minimize irritation.
Other Treatments for Oral Mucositis
One of the most common treatments used by those with oral mucositis is a mouth rinse or mouthwash. These can come in the form of simple salt water – a viable option that can both ease pain and fight infection – or a home-made baking soda solution, though some over-the-counter alternatives may prove more effective, though more expensive. These products all share a weakness, however: they are only useful for fighting mouth sores after they have formed. A better strategy for tackling oral mucositis is to prevent the worst of the condition entirely.
To accomplish this, a method of treatment called “cryotherapy” is employed in cancer centers around the country; it’s why nurses distribute ice chips and popsicles to patients receiving an infusion of chemotherapy drugs. In a nutshell, cryotherapy refers to the use of cold temperatures to affect the body, such as when you ice a bruise. For chemo patients, the aim is quite specific: to shrink the blood vessels of the mouth with icy objects – hence the ice chips. By causing these blood vessels to constrict, patients can limit the access the toxic chemotherapy drugs have to the vulnerable tissues of the mouth in much the same way that closing lanes on a highway limits traffic.
The downfall of this treatment, at least traditionally, is that it relies on an imperfect method of delivery. Ice chips tend to just sit in the bottom of the mouth, cooling the lower palate and tongue but not much else; similarly, ice pops only reach a limited area of the mouth. This leaves the rest of the oral cavity vulnerable to the harmful chemicals circulating during treatment.
David Yoskowitz, an engineer and cancer survivor who himself struggled with mouth sores during treatment, invented a solution: the Chemo Mouthpiece™. This is essentially an ice pack for fighting oral mucositis that cools your entire mouth uniformly, front to back and side to side, to prevent chemo drugs from getting where they shouldn’t. Simply bring the Chemo Mouthpiece™ to your treatment center, leave it in your mouth as the drugs circulate, and see how the cooling power of cryotherapy can save you from the worst of the oral mucositis symptoms.
Ice Pack Preventing the Worst Symptoms of Oral Mucositis
Anyone who has dealt with mouth sores during chemotherapy knows how debilitating they can be. Not only are they painful, but they can also limit your ability to eat, make you vulnerable to infections, and prolong your hospital stay and cancer treatments. Chemo Mouthpiece™ looks to prevent all that. For a simple, effective, easy-to-use product that can significantly reduce the severity of oral mucositis, try the Chemo Mouthpiece™ today. Visit our online shop or call (866) 461-7518 to learn more.