Dental care is an important part of overall cancer care. Good nutrition also plays a big role in dental health. Problems with the teeth, gums or mouth can interfere with eating well. Poor nutrition can lead to dental problems.
Visit the dentist at least four weeks before treatment begins if possible, and
- Maintain good dental and oral hygiene to help prevent gum disease and infection.
- Brush teeth two to three times a day with a fluoride toothpaste with a mild taste—flavorings can irritate the mouth.
- Gently floss once a day.
- Rinse the mouth with a solution of water, salt and baking soda every 2 hours.
- Use an antibacterial rinse two to four times a day and avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes.
- Use a lip-care product to prevent your lips from drying and cracking.
- Bush dentures daily.
- Avoid hot, spicy, highly acidic and crunchy foods that may irritate your mouth.
- Try soft texture and moist foods if your mouth is dry or sore.
- Avoid sugary foods, such as candy or soda that can cause cavities.
- Avoid alcohol and tobacco products.
- Inspect your mouth daily to detect any problems with sores, ulcers or infection.
- Speak with your oncologist and dentist as soon as possible if you have any mouth, tooth or jaw pain—or any other symptom of possible dental problems.
- If needed, your oncologist may refer you to a dental oncologist (a dentist who is specially trained to treat people with cancer).
- Ask your healthcare team for tips on how to keep your teeth and mouth clean, and for their suggestions on how to reduce dental discomfort.
When you go to the dentist, update your medical history records to include your cancer diagnosis and treatments, and provide your dentist and your oncologist with each other’s name and telephone number so they can consult with each other. You may be advised to have any necessary major dental procedures completed before beginning therapy, if possible.
- Dental and Oral Complications
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s free fact sheets,