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Symptom Management:

Symptom Management

Side Effects of Treatment
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Appetite Loss
Bladder Disturbances
Incontinence - Urinary
Dryness of the Mouth
Fluid and Electrolyte Imbalances
Flu-like Syndrome
Hair Loss
Menopausal Symptoms
Nausea & Vomiting
Neurological Disturbances
Spinal Cord Compression
Peritoneal Effusions
Shortness of Breath
Skin Conditions
Sleep Problems (Insomnia/Oversleeping)
Sore Mouth
Bone Metastases
Sexuality Issues
Sexual Dysfunction
A Healthy Mouth

Symptom and Description Your mouth has an important role to play in keeping you healthy. Cancer and cancer treatment can sometimes cause a sore mouth. There are things you can do now to keep your mouth healthy.

Learning Needs You will need to learn:

  • How to keep your mouth clean and moist
  • What to avoid that may be irritating
  • When to see the dentist

Prevention How to keep your mouth clean and moist:

1. Brush your teeth within 30 minutes after eating and at bed time.

  • Use a soft-bristle, narrow nylon toothbrush and a sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) toothpaste with fluoride added.
  • Dip the bristles in very warm water to make them softer.
  • Place the brush at a 45-degree angle to the junction of the gums and teeth.
  • Brush all of the outside surfaces of the teeth using short back and forth or circular strokes. Brush the inside surfaces using only the tip of the brush. Brush the chewing surfaces with a back and forth motion.
  • Gently brush your gums, tongue, and top of mouth.

2. If you wear dentures, remove and brush them as described above.

  • Soak them for several minutes in an effervescent denture cleanser (the kind that bubbles) or flavored 1.5% hydrogen peroxide.
  • Rinse well.
  • Do not wear dentures that do not fit well. Contact your dentist to have them adjusted or relined.
  • Do not wear your dentures at night.

3. Floss your teeth at least once daily after brushing.

  • Cut a piece of dental floss 18 inches long.
  • Wrap the ends loosely around your middle fingers, leaving a few inches of floss exposed between those fingers.
  • Guide the floss with the thumbs of both hands to clean the upper teeth and with the index (first) fingers to clean the lower teeth.
  • Gently force the floss between the teeth—from your gum line to the top of each tooth.
  • Floss both sides of each tooth using a gentle up-and-down motion.

4. Rinse your mouth after brushing and flossing.

  • Use tap water, salt solution (half teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water), a mouthwash containing less than 6% alcohol, or flavored 1.5% hydrogen peroxide (Peroxamint) or 1 part hydrogen peroxide to 3 parts water.
  • Use your cheeks to swish the solution all around your mouth for 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Keep your lips moist.

  • Use cocoa butter, petroleum jelly, lipstick balm or lipstick, or a water-based mouth moisturizer.
  • Apply plenty of moisturizer to your lips and mouth frequently.

What to avoid that may be irritating:

  • Lemon and glycerine swabs
  • Mouthwashes that contain more than 6% alcohol
  • Foods and drinks that are hot, spicy, or acidic
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Excessive alcohol

When to see the dentist:

  • Visit your dentist at least every year to have a check-up and teeth cleaning.
  • Make an appointment to see your dentist before you start cancer treatment or for any tooth pain.

Follow-up Report the following to your doctor or nurse:

  • Redness
  • Soreness or pain
  • Cracks, ulcers, blisters, white patches
  • Temperature greater than 101.3° F
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