Guide to Managing Your Chemotherapy Treatment: Mouth Care

MD Anderson Cancer Center
Date: November 2012

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Chemotherapy may cause problems in the mouth including soreness and ulcers, infection, changes in your saliva and in your sense of taste. 

>> Sometimes you get mouth ulcers and they're not very fun.  They make it difficult to talk and eat and chew.  But I will say I haven't had a lot of them.  I have had, you know, maybe two or three in the three years but the rinses that they provide are great.

>> Begin good mouth care right away to help prevent mouth sores.  Brush your teeth, gums and tongue after each meal and at bedtime using a soft toothbrush.  After brushing, rinse your mouth with a baking soda solution.  Do not use a store bought mouthwash. 

>>The goal of nutrition is to prevent any further irritation of the mouth and throat.

>> Foods that are typically tough are going to require a lot of chewing, which can cause your mouth to become tired and it also can irritate your mouth.  We typically recommend for patients to choose soft, moist, room temperature and non highly seasoned foods, things such as cottage cheese with canned fruit, meats that you can put in a food processor and cover with just plain brown gravy, also there's always milkshakes and smoothies that tend to be quite popular.

>> For some patients, foods may taste metallic like cardboard or have no taste at all.

>> Everybody will know, all cancer patients, you will know.  That metallic taste in your mouth or whatever that is, that aftertaste, try lemon water.  Just sprinkles of lemon in your water, throw some cucumbers in there too.  It just gives it a fresh taste and it gets that, whatever that weirdo chemo taste is, it gets it out of there.

>> We do encourage patients to use plastic silverware instead of anything metal.  Try to avoid eating foods that come in metal cans because sometimes that flavoring can seep into the food.

>> Try eating a variety of foods to find what tastes best to you.