Sore mouth during cancer treatment

Chemotherapy, radiation therapy to the head and neck, and infection may lead to mouth sores, tender gums, and sore throat.

How to ease side effects of a sore mouth

Some foods irritate an already sore mouth, and chewing and swallowing becomes a problem.

Ideas to lessen or overcome problems caused by a sore mouth, tender gums, or sore throat

  • Rinse every two waking hours with a salt-water solution of 1-teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon baking soda mixed into 1 quart of tepid tap water to remove food and bacteria and promote healing. This rinsing is vital to help the soreness.
  • Ask the doctor about medication to lessen the pain.
  • Eat soft, well cooked, and easy to chew foods; i.e., milk shakes, cottage cheese, yogurt, pudding, fruit nectars, bananas, applesauce, mashed vegetables, macaroni and cheese.
  • Blend food/soft meat, fish, poultry.
  • Add butter, gravy or sauce to aid in swallowing.
  • Avoid acidic foods and beverages.
  • Avoid spicy or salty foods.
  • Avoid carbonated beverages and alcohol.
  • Avoid rough, coarse or dry foods; i.e., crackers, pretzels, raw vegetables.
  • Choose cool or room temperature foods.
  • Soak a soft bristled toothbrush in hot water for 5 minutes before brushing.
Last reviewed: 
April 2018

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