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According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), over a third of cancer patients develop oral side effects due to the cancer, its treatments, or a weakened immune system. If these oral side effects become too severe, they can actually delay cancer treatment. Learn about these side effects and how they can be remedied.

Mouth Ulcers

Painful sores can develop on the tissue inside the mouth. Treatments include:

  • A topical treatment that protects the ulcers
  • Painkillers to numb the ulcers
  • Avoiding foods that can aggravate the ulcers (such as spicy, acidic, or crunchy foods)

Sensitive Gums

Chemotherapy can cause tissues to swell, but red and swollen gum tissue could also be a sign that gum disease has developed because of a weak immune system. A dentist may recommend using a mouthwash that is:

  • Steroid
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antifungal or antibacterial

Dry Mouth

If cancer treatments damage the salivary glands, your mouth becomes dry and the teeth have an increased risk for decay. Treatments can include:

  • An oral rinse
  • Artificial saliva
  • Drinking more water

Jaw Pain

Jaw pain can be a result of inflamed and scarred jaw muscles due to radiation, or teeth grinding because of stress. You dentist may recommend a treatment such as:

  • Performing jaw exercises
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medication or a muscle relaxant