Mouth care when you are sick

Posted on 22 July, 2020 || Tags: | | | | | |
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A healthy mouth is clean, moist, and pain-free. But illness or medication can affect the cells that line your mouth and cause unpleasant side effects, such as changes in taste, sore or bleeding gums, dry mouth, oral thrush, redness, swelling, and ulcers.

Taking good care of your mouth will help to stop this from happening. This page is for people who can care for their own mouth. If you are caring for someone else, look for more information online.

Cleaning your mouth

Routine mouth care

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft toothbrush and a fluoride toothpaste.
  • If your gums or mouth are sensitive or sore, use a super-soft toothbrush.
  • Brush your gums and tongue.
  • After brushing, swish and spit the toothpaste out but don’t rinse.

If you have dentures (false teeth)

  • Brush your dentures with soap and water after each meal. Leave your dentures out of your mouth at night. Soak them in a denture cleaner such as Polident or Steradent.
  • Take your dentures out if you are applying a cream or gel in your mouth.
  • If you have a mouth infection it’s important to soak your dentures at night, otherwise the infection can remain on your dentures. You can use chlorhexidine mouthwash to clean dentures, or try soaking them in quarter-strength Milton antibacterial solution. You can buy these at your pharmacy.

Other things that can help

  • Keep your mouth moist by sipping fluid and using plain water sprays.
  • Use salt and baking soda mouthwash after every meal, or as you need it. Make it with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 200 ml water. Make it fresh every day and keep it in the fridge.
  • See your dentist if you have any problems with your teeth, or they need professional cleaning.

Dry mouth

Having a dry mouth can be very uncomfortable. A lot of things can cause it, including dehydration, infection, anxiety, medications, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment to your head and neck. Check with your doctor to see if what’s causing your dry mouth can be treated.

Try some of these tips to keep your mouth moist:

  • Regularly sip water or other cool drinks – make sure you always have a sipper bottle within reach.
  • Use salt and baking soda mouthwash after every meal, or as you need it. Make it with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 200 ml water. Make it fresh every day and keep it in the fridge.
  • Suck ice cubes, or crushed ice.
  • Chew sugar-free chewing gum.
  • Keep your lips moist with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) or lip salves.
  • You can try using artificial saliva or mouth lubricant gels.

Sore mouth

If your mouth, tongue, or throat become sore or red, or get a fuzzy coating, you may have oral thrush (candida). See your doctor about this, as it’s easy to treat with antifungal drops. If you have dentures, make sure you treat these, too.

To stop it from happening again, take good care of your mouth by regularly cleaning and moistening it.

If your mouth is sore, try the following tips:

  • Eat soft, smooth, or blended food such as poached eggs, soups, yoghurt, milk puddings, or finely chopped stewed meat in sauce or gravy.
  • Eat soothing cold foods, such as custard, yoghurt, jelly, and ice cream.
  • Avoid any food or drink that causes discomfort. This might include curry, acidic food such as tomatoes, or rough dry food such as toast.
  • Let hot food cool down a bit before you eat it.
  • Have milky drinks rather than fruit juice.
  • Use a teaspoon or straw to keep food away from any painful part of your mouth.
  • Keep your mouth clean.

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