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6 Strategies for Treating Patients Undergoing Cancer Therapy

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments impact the normal cells of cancer patients, resulting in adverse oral health effects, ranging from small annoyances, like mouth sores, to long-term complications, such as rampant caries.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments impact the normal cells of cancer patients, resulting in adverse oral health effects, ranging from small annoyances, like mouth sores, to long-term complications, such as rampant caries. Here are 6 management strategies to consider when caring for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

1. Personalize care

Clinicians are responsible for designing individualized treatment plans to help minimize adverse oral health effects. A pretreatment assessment is crucial to identify if any infections, untreated caries, or trauma are present. With this information, clinicians can plan a course of treatment.

2. Ease the pain

Many patients may experience burning mouth syndrome, sores, mouth discomfort, or changes in taste due to bacterial changes in the mouth. To help ease the pain, oral health professionals may suggest patients modify their diet to include more nutritious foods and eliminate those items that may irritate mouth sores or the tongue.

3. Xerostomia relief

Artificial saliva products, sugarless gum and lozenges, toothpastes, and gels with a neutral pH can offer patients relief from dry mouth, while also protecting teeth against caries and periodontitis.

4. Protection against caries

Oral health professionals can recommend an effective oral hygiene regimen, fluoride therapy, and the addition of other agents, such as chlorhexidine, arginine, calcium phosphate technologies, triclosan, sialogogues, and iodine, as well as dietary guidance, to help reduce caries risk.

5. Go alcohol-free

Patients undergoing cancer treatments may want to consider using alcohol-free rinses to prevent oral irritation.

6. Maintain oral hygiene

Patients should be encouraged to continue with daily oral health care despite mouth discomfort such as tender gums and ulcers.

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