Useful tips for oral care
We maintain our mouth clean and moist, and drink a lot of water!
A. If we will receive or are receiving radiation therapy, with or without chemotherapy for head and neck tumor.
Small, painful sores may appear. Sores usually appear from the 3rd week of treatment. The following instructions and tips can prevent the appearance of sores and/or reduce and relieve them. We always consult our doctor.
1. Frequent and lots of mouthwashes:
During radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy we wash our mouth frequently with chamomile:
We make 1 liter of chamomile and add 1 small teaspoon of soda and 1 small teaspoon of salt into it. We begin mouth washes when Radiotherapy starts. When, and if, the mouth hurts, we remove the salt and soda and only wash with chamomile.
Why are mouthwashes necessary?
The few microbes that are present in the mouth multiply in the small wounds, which were created during radiation therapy and produce "toxins" that can make the wounds worse. Chamomile rinses wash away germs from the mouth, clean sores and relieve pain. Studies have shown that chamomile has a significant healing effect on chemotherapy wounds.
How many times a day should I rinse my mouth with chamomile?
Constantly! We try to do what nature does: just as saliva secretes and rinses the mouth constantly, so we do with chamomile when we do not have enough saliva and wash/rinse the mouth constantly. To explain better, while sitting at the table, we hold the jug of chamomile in our left hand and a glass in our right. We rinse and spit, in a small basin, which is in front of us.
Dental fluoridation protects our teeth during radiation therapy. It is recommended to use a toothpaste with a high fluoride content immediately after treatment begins and/or a few days before it begins. If our toothpaste stings at some point during the treatment, we use children's toothpaste. When the mouth is fine, we use the fluoride paste again, up to two years after the treatment, if we have dry mouth.
Why do we need to protect our teeth during radiation therapy?
Radiation therapy to head and neck reduces saliva, which protects our teeth. Saliva is the "bath" for teeth.
Saliva helps teeth stay strong. Without saliva, food sticks to the teeth and rots them, and teeth develop caries. Brushing teeth with fluoride toothpaste makes the enamel harder, with increased resistance to food acids.
B. If we receive standard chemotherapy to treat a solid tumor, e.g. breast, prostate, lung, intestine, etc.
Small sores may appear around the 8th day. We wash with chamomile, as described above.
We avoid solutions that state in their ingredients that they contain alcohol, because they dehydrate the oral mucosa and make it more vulnerable. We consult our doctor.
C. If we are taking medicines to protect the bones.
Problems are limited when we have good oral hygiene.
Poor oral hygiene According to recent studies is the main local risk factor for the occurrence of osteonecrosis, which is one of the problems of those medicines.
When our tooth hurts we will tell our doctor and the dentist, who can also consult the latest articles (2019-2020) on the internet. There is a leaflet posted on the HeSMO website with special instructions for these drugs and their effect on the jaws, www.HeSMO.gr. We consult our doctor.
D. If we are taking anti-angiogenic drugs, and other targeted therapies.
Oral infections, gingivitis and bleeding gums may occur. Oral hygiene is, again, the key to having a healthy mouth.
When the mouth and gums are clean, the risk of oral complications is low. When gingivitis and periodontitis are present, the drugs can worsen bleeding gums.
We avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol in their ingredients. We consult our doctor.
E. If we are receiving immunotherapy.
We inform our doctor if we have a history of an autoimmune disease, eg oral lichen planus. During immunotherapy, an exacerbation of the autoimmune disease can be observed, which will cause pain in the mouth. A clean mouth is again key to our care. We consult our doctor.
F. If we have a blood disease and will receive chemotherapy or have received a bone marrow transplantation.
Small mouth sores may occur during chemotherapy. Good oral health will help and protect us and/or will reduce problems. We wash with chamomile, as described above.
We avoid using solutions whose ingredients contain alcohol, because they dehydrate the oral mucosa and make it more vulnerable. We consult our doctor.
Graft-versus-host disease, both acute and chronic, can cause mouth sores and dry mouth. We wash with chamomile, as described above. Fluoride will be needed if our mouth is dry.
In conclusion, dental checkup, and oral care before and during treatment, as well as follow-up after treatment, will help maintain our oral health to live better and longer.
- be prevented
- appear with reduced their severity
- be successfully treated
Symptoms in the mouth, which we must note and tell the doctor:
- Pain in the mouth, teeth, gums, jaw
- xerostomia, dry mouth
- oral mucosal or gingival bleeding
We consult our doctor