Most people associate chemotherapy treatment with extreme nausea and loss of hair, but this kind of treatment can have serious dental and oral consequences, consequences which can be mitigated or avoided altogether by taking preventative steps. The following are common occurrences for a person having chemotherapy treatment.


Oral Effects of Chemo

  • Mouth sores and infections.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Bleeding of the gums and the inside of the mouth.
  • Pain, discomfort and soreness of the mouth.

There may be difficulty with eating and swallowing which can cause nutritional problems. The food will can taste different due to the effect of the treatment on the taste buds and tongue.


Oral Problem Prevention Before Chemo

Preventive measures can be taken before the onset of the cancer treatment. The oncologist will suggest a visit to a specialist dentist a few weeks before the chemotherapy begins. The dentist will expect the person to—

  • Have a thorough examination of mouth and gums.
  • Be given careful instructions on how to carry out oral hygiene while having the treatment.
  • Participate in any dental repairs deemed necessary by the dentist.
  • Cooperate in having a thorough dental cleaning by a dental hygienist.
  • Have a dental x-ray carried out. 


Oral Hygiene During Chemo

The person should carefully follow the instruction given by the dentist. Also, the oncologist in charge of the chemotherapy treatment may advise that –

  • A special mouth wash be used to prevent any mouth sores which could lead to infection, since chemotherapy treatment can affect the immune system of the aged person and lower its resistance to other infections.
  • The person avoid eating any food with sharp edges in order not to scratch or cut the gums.
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and spicy or acidic foods should not be taken at all.


If the above instructions are followed, then the person can safely maintain his/her normal oral hygiene habits. This should include brushing and flossing twice each day with a soft toothbrush and avoiding mouthwashes which contain alcohol. Some specialists recommend sucking on ice chips and keeping the mouth moist at all times to counter dry mouth.

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