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Medically Compromised Patients Medicine Oncology Supporting Your Practice

Oral Care in Cancer Therapy: Oral Care After Head & Neck Cancer Treatment


Drs. Deborah Saunders and Joel Epstein return to Oasis Discussions to discuss a third complication that occurs during cancer therapy and beyond, xerostomia. Xerostomia affects speech, chewing, swallowing, taste and overall nutrition which may negatively affect overall treatment and patient outcomes during therapy. Xerostomia is not related to aging as much as it reflects the use of medications that result in dry mouth.

See also:

Oral Care in Cancer Therapy Part 1: Oral Care Pre-Head & Neck Cancer Treatment
Oral Care in Cancer Therapy Part 2: Oral Care During Cancer Therapy

Functions of Saliva

  • Antimicrobial activity
  • Control of pH
  • Removal of food debris form oral cavity
  • Binding and removal of microbes from the oral cavity
  • Lubricating of the oral cavity, cellular hydration
  • Remineralizing teeth
  • Maintaining integrity of the oral mucosa

Salivary hypofunction/xerostomia may result in candidiasis due to decreased salivary buffering ability in the oral cavity.

CCO’s symptom management guide provides information for healthcare providers to help patients care for their mouths. The following recommended mouth rinse recipe helps to buffer the pH in the mouth, maintain moisture and remove debris.

  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 cups water

Mix daily and use daily t.i.d up to q1hour.



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