Mouth sores are a common side effect of chemo. These painful ulcers make eating and talking extremely hard. If you’re going through cancer treatment, you’ve probably experienced this. However, you don’t have to suffer from canker sores when you’re getting chemotherapy treatment. Discover why mouth sores plague cancer patients and how you can quickly relieve the discomfort they cause.
What Are Mouth Sores?
Mouth sores, canker sores, stomatitis, oral mucositis. They have many names, but they all mean the same thing: small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth. They often occur at the base of your gums. And their color is usually red, white, or yellow.
Unlike cold sores, mouth sores aren’t caused by infection. And they’re not infectious either. There are various causes for mouth sores. These range from a possible allergic reaction to HIV. But, for cancer patients, chemotherapy is a common cause for these types of mouth sores.
Cancer-related mouth sores are very painful. And they can make eating, talking, and swallowing very uncomfortable. However, there are ways to alleviate the discomfort (we’ll talk more about this in a minute.)
Why Does Cancer Treatment Cause Mouth Sores?
You can get mouth sores from both chemo and radiation therapy. These cancer treatments target and kill rapidly growing cells, such as cancer. However, cancer cells aren’t the only rapidly growing cells in the body. The inner lining of your mouth is one example of such healthy cells.
That’s why chemo treatment targets the soft tissue inside of your mouth. Sadly, the damage of chemotherapy makes it difficult for the inside of your mouth to fend off bacteria. So, it becomes prone to mouth sores and infection.
What You Can Expect If You Have Mouth Sores Get From Chemo
If you’re going through chemotherapy, it’s good to understand when your mouth sores will develop. Usually, they’ll appear a few days after your treatment starts. And they’ll disappear two or three weeks after your chemo ends.
Still, mouth sores from cancer treatment are the worst around a week after chemo. After that, they get much better.
How severe the mouth sores you get from chemo depends on your therapy. Some chemo drugs are more prone to give you mouth sores (stomatitis) than others. These cancer treatments are often associated with stomatitis:
- Capecitabine (Xeloda)
- Cytarabine (Depocyt)
- Doxorubicin (Doxil)
- Etoposide (Etopophos)
- Methotrexate (Trexall)
What Can You Eat When You Have Mouth Sores from Chemo?
When you’re battling cancer, you need to maintain a healthy body weight. And the painful canker sores from chemotherapy definitely don’t help with that.
Soft or liquid-based foods are especially helpful when you’re suffering from mouth ulcers. Eating with a straw can also lessen the pain you feel when you eat. Yogurt, apple sauce, and soup are great choices for nutrition.
Avoid spicy, acidic, sharp, or crunch foods. These can irritate your mouth sores even more. To spare yourself from pain, avoid chocolate, alcohol, and chips.
If you’re struggling to keep your weight, try meal replacement shakes. Although these aren’t the tastiest choice, they include all the protein intake you need to keep your energy levels up.
What to Do If You Have Stomatitis From Chemo Treatment
When you develop mouth sores from chemo, there are things you can do to minimize the pain they cause. You can also successfully prevent severe stomatitis if you do the following steps.
Take Care of Your Dental Hygiene
No matter how painful or uncomfortable it may be, you absolutely need to continue your dental hygiene routine. Brush your teeth, floss, and clean your tongue twice a day. If brushing or flossing becomes too painful, there are alternatives that can keep your dental hygiene up without much effort.
Ask your doctor or dentist to recommend a dental swab to replace your toothbrush. You’ll have an easier time taking care of your oral hygiene.
You may find that rinsing your mouth with water can help lessen the pain of canker sores. There are medicated rinses available for your exact problem.
Try to rinse every two hours when you’re awake. You can easily prevent an infection of your lesions.
If you’re a regular smoker, you’re at a greater risk of developing mouth sores when you go through chemo. That’s because the inner lining of your mouth is already weakened.
Cold foods to Relieve the Pain
If your mouth sores feel like they burn, you can consume cold foods. This should cool the inflammation down temporarily. And you’ll find that the pain will subside a bit too. But, make sure you do this carefully and rarely, as ice-cold food is bad for your teeth.
Medication Mouth Sores From Chemo?
If you develop mouth sores from chemo, make sure you inform your doctor. They can offer pain relief medication and topical treatments. Some common treatments for chemotherapy canker sores are:
- Coating agents: This type of medication coats the inside of your mouth. By covering the mouth sores, the irritation, and pain you feel when you eat or talk will be much less noticeable.
- Topical painkillers: You have to put these pain killers on top of your mouth sores. While these eliminate the pain, they also eliminate most feelings in your mouth. Be very careful how you eat or brush your teeth. You may inadvertently injure yourself.
- Anti-infection medication: Your mouth sores can become infected. To prevent this, your doctor may recommend antifungal, antibacterial, or antiviral medication.
The Most Effective Treatment for Mouth Sores From Chemo
Topical painkillers and cold foods or beverages are good for temporary pain relief. But, if you want to get rid of your mouth sores effectively, we recommend laser treatment can target your mouth sores and restore the healthy inner lining of your mouth.
Laser treatment to get rid of mouth sores is completely painless. The dental laser heals your lesions without touching your skin, providing immediate relief. This treatment is also very effective since it regenerates soft tissue directly.
Usually, your laser treatment will consist of two appointments within a week of each other. Each part of the procedure will last around 30 minutes, where we target half of your mouth and canker sores. The pain relief will be immediate.
Some minor side effects of the procedure are soreness and throbbing.
Get a Laser Treatment For Your Canker Sores in NYC
Laser treatment for mouth sores caused by chemo has been an effective way of treating sores. It’s the quickest and most effective way to relieve your oral pain. Laser treatment gives cancer patients a chance to focus on their recovery instead of their discomfort.
At Advanced Dental Arts, we’re proud to offer laser treatments to alleviate mouth sores. Providing this major difference in people’s lives is why we’re proud to be your favorite Greenwich Village dental practice.
If you’re experiencing mouth sores from chemo in New York City, and you’d like an effective treatment for it, come visit us. Book an appointment at Advanced Dental Arts today!