A sore or dry mouth is a common side effect of cancer treatment or advanced cancer. Mouth ulcers and thrush are common. Tell the GP, specialist palliative care team or district nurse if the mouth of the person you are caring for becomes very sore or has white patches. It is very important these symptoms are treated. There are mouthwashes, tablets, gels or pellets that can help relieve the symptoms.
There are things you can do to help:
- Encourage them to gently clean their teeth or dentures using a soft-bristled or children’s toothbrush.
- Suggest they avoid things that are likely to cause discomfort, such as strongly flavoured toothpaste, acidic drinks like orange juice, and spicy or salty foods.
- Try cooking moist food, as it is often easier to eat.
- If they cannot manage solid food, try giving them soft foods such as porridge, bananas, custard, soup, yoghurt or rice pudding. You could try liquidised food, or a nourishing drink such as a smoothie.
- Keep their lips moist by using Vaseline® or a lip balm.
- Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids, and to avoid alcohol and smoking.
- If they need dental treatment, ask the dentist if they can do a home visit. They may charge for this.