While you’re on chemo, and particularly AC chemo, your mouth will be drier and you’ll start getting canker-like sores in your mouth and into your throat. The canker sores can be very painful. As a result of dry mouth, vomiting and chemo, your teeth take a beating when you have cancer. Plan ahead to ensure that you stay ahead of this so you can continue to eat.
Magic Mouthwash: This is available by prescription from the oncologist. If you have sores in your mouth or throat that make it too painful to swallow, you might need to use some Magic Mouthwash. Its key ingredient is lidocaine for the pain along with a few other items that help tame the inflammation. Thankfully, I never needed to use mine.
Baking Soda Rinses – The oncologist recommended using 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 8 oz of warm water as a rinse to be used throughout the day. I did a lot of these. I was probably rinsing 6 times a day. They helped keep the sores in check. When they started going beyond, I’d move to another treatment in addition to these rinses.
Rincinol – This magic product, made by G-U-M, (which I could never seem to find locally, and yes, it’s on Amazon) is one that my former dentist recommended and said she’s now recommending to all her patients for pain from sores in the mouth.
Peroxyl – Made by Colgate, it’s rinse with hydrogen peroxide that helps to clean and heal sores in the mouth. I used this a couple of times per day, and mostly at night before I went to bed.
Biotene – I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials on TV for this product and dry mouth. There are a number of medical issues, and their treatments, that cause dry mouth. Chemo is one of them. I also used this before I went to bed, and sometimes in the middle of the night when I woke up particularly dry.
Clinpro 5000 – Made by 3M, this is a toothpaste with extra fluoride mixed in. The majority of toothpastes on the market have about 0.15% fluoride in them. Clinpro 5000 has 1.1% fluoride. The extra fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth to help prevent cavities. This stuff is pretty expensive, but during chemo, it’s worth it.
Fluoride Varnish – This is the same stuff that gets painted onto kids’ teeth to help prevent cavities. Its job for cancer patients is really about the same. It helps keep your teeth strong through the chemo, mouth sores and vomiting. I have it done once a month. It’s not horribly costly, but my dental insurer, Delta Dental of WA refuses to even talk to me about covering it. This is nuts because when there is a medical treatment that I can’t do, my medical insurance provider will at least entertain a conversation. Not the dental people. If you can afford the $40-50/month, just do it.
L-Lysine – This is an over-the-counter amino acid supplement that you may not need if you get enough of it from foods. “Good sources of lysine are high-protein foods such as eggs, meat (specifically red meat, lamb, pork, and poultry), soy, beans and peas, cheese (particularly Parmesan), and certain fish (such as cod and sardines).”¹ I learned about L-Lysine many years ago when I found a cream made with it for treating cold sores. I figured that if it worked as a topical, I must be missing some of it in my diet, so I started taking the supplements as well when I started getting a canker or cold sore. It seems to help. So… when I started chemo and started getting mouth sores, I added a couple of tablets to my daily medication/supplement regimen. Your results may vary.