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Patients & Caregivers

Mucositis, or mouth sores, can develop from many different forms of cancer treatment. It can develop because the cells that line the inside of the cheek may be damaged or the normal way that they repair or renew is weakened. Either way, it can be very uncomfortable and may make someone not want to eat certain foods, not want to eat at all, or may cause individuals to consider discontinuing treatment. For these reasons, it is important to both prevent and manage mucositis. Those experiencing mucositis should choose foods and drinks that are comfortable to mouth tissues, yet do not increase risk of tooth decay.


What does mucositis look like?

  • Areas of redness, tenderness, or ulceration (open sore).

  • If you have any questions, or if it does not look like this, ask your doctor to take a look.


Prevention of mucositis

  • Some rinses can reduce risk

  • In cases of radiation therapy, covering metallic dental radiations with silicone reduces burns-talk to your dentist

  • Practice good oral hygiene to reduce plaque, which can make inflammation worse

  • Don’t smoke

  • Maintain good nutrition


Management of mucositis

  • Medicated mouth rinses can make you more comfortable-talk to your doctor

  • If these don’t help, you may need medication for pain.

  • Sucking on pieces of ice can help


Oral health and mucositis

For many people, the pain of mouth sores may make them choose foods that are soft, or may make them not want to brush their teeth. Some soft foods contain sugars and carbohydrates and extended exposures to these increase risk of tooth decay. 

For more information about mucositis and oral health, see these resources:


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The information on the Rhode Island Cancer and Oral Health Resource Guide, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images, and other external materials are for informational purposes only. The Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island does not provide medical advice. The information on this website is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

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