Lifespan Cancer Institute

Mouth Care

Chemotherapy affects the fast growing cells that line your mouth, lips and throat. You will be asked to check your mouth, lips, gums and tongue.

What to do:

  • Please check your mouth, lips, gums, teeth and tongue daily for sores, white spots, ulcers, redness, swelling, tenderness, or for any difficulty with swallowing.
  • Avoid routine dental cleanings during chemotherapy. If you need emergency dental treatment, please discuss with your doctor or nurse before seeking dental care.
  • Try to notify your dentist two weeks prior to starting chemotherapy. Your dentist may want to do a dental exam and recommend toothpaste or a mouthwash for you to use.
  • Keep your mouth moist. Talk to your nurse about saliva substitutes.
  • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush. If you normally floss, floss gently. If spontaneous bleeding occurs stop flossing and call a nurse.
  • Do not use a mouthwash that has alcohol. Try using 1/8 teaspoon salt and/or 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in one cup of warm water after meals and at bedtime. If you have dentures or partials, remove them and clean separately.
  • If you wear dentures, please make sure they fit well and you inspect your gums. Do not use dentures if you experience any discomfort.
  • Apply lip moisturizer often.

When to call your doctor or nurse:

Please call if you have any difficulty swallowing or experience unusual symptoms. Your doctor may need to prescribe medications to treat or prevent mouth infection.