‘Take care of your oral health to protect your mouth and body’ is the message around World Oral Health Day today, 20 March.
Treatment for lymphoma, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, target cells that are dividing rapidly, such as cancerous cells. But they also affect some of your body’s normal cells, especially ones that have a fast turnover, like the cells of the lining of your mouth.
If you have sore mouth, it is important to take steps to prevent infection:
- Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after eating. Keeping your mouth clean reduces your risk of getting infections. Avoid mouthwashes that contain salt or alcohol as these can cause further irritation. If your mouth is painful, your medical team might prescribe a special mouthwash, eg one containing anaesthetic.
- Clean your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled brush. You could try using children’s toothpaste, which is milder than regular toothpaste.
- Visit your dentist before you start treatment for lymphoma – you may not be able to have any dental work done during or soon after treatment because of increased risk of infection.
Flossing can damage an already sensitive mucous membrane, allowing harmful bacteria into the bloodstream. If you regularly floss, take care to do it gently if you decide continue to do it during your lymphoma treatment. If you do not floss regularly already, it is not recommended that you begin while you are having treatment for lymphoma.
20 March 2019