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Mouth and Gum Problems During Chemotherapy

Dealing With Mouth Sores

If you do develop mouth sores during chemotherapy, here are some things that you should do:
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there is anything you can apply directly to the sores or that he or she can prescribe to ease the pain.
  • Eat foods cold or at room temperature. Hot and warm foods can irritate a tender mouth and throat.
  • Eat soft, soothing foods, such as ice cream, milkshakes, baby food, soft fruits (bananas and applesauce), mashed potatoes, cooked cereals, soft-boiled or scrambled eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, custards, puddings, and gelatin. You also can puree cooked foods in the blender to make them smoother and easier to eat.
  • Avoid irritating, acidic foods and juices, such as tomato juices and citrus juices (including orange, grapefruit, and lemon); spicy or salty foods; and rough or coarse foods such as raw vegetables, granola, popcorn, and toast.

Dealing With Mouth Dryness

If you develop mouth dryness during chemotherapy, here are some suggestions that may help you cope:
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you should use an artificial saliva product to moisten your mouth.
  • Drink plenty of liquids.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you can suck on ice chips, popsicles, or sugarless hard candy. You can also chew sugarless gum. (Sorbitol, a sugar substitute that is in many sugar-free foods, can cause diarrhea in many people. If diarrhea is a problem for you, check the labels of sugar-free foods before you buy them and limit your use of them.)
  • Moisten dry foods with butter, margarine, gravy, sauces, or broth.
  • Dunk crisp, dry foods in mild liquids.
  • Eat soft and pureed foods.
  • Use lip balm or petroleum jelly if your lips become dry.
  • Carry a water bottle with you to sip from often.
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