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Cells in the mouth can be affected by chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the head and neck. As such, it's important to keep the mouth and teeth as clean as possible. Your child will feel more comfortable, and you can help prevent mouth sores or other infections.
Have your child brush their teeth with a soft toothbrush after each meal and before bed.
Rinse the mouth with water after brushing. Do not use mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Alcohol dries out the mouth.
If a dry mouth is a problem, have your child suck on sugar-free hard candies or ask your health care provider about mouthwashes or other products for dry mouth.
Some chemotherapy medicines and radiation therapy to the head and neck can cause mouth sores. The inside of the mouth may be red or may have sores that can be painful. You may also see white plaques (small raised areas) in the mouth that may be from a fungal infection.
If mouth sores are a problem:
Your healthcare provider may give your child a medication to treat a fungal infection in the mouth (thrush), and/or a pain medication if the sores are painful. Call your healthcare provider if your child cannot drink fluids, swallow, or if your child’s medicine does not help take away the pain.
Radiation therapy to the head or neck area can reduce the flow of saliva and cause a dry mouth, making it harder to chew and swallow foods. Dry mouth can also change the way foods taste.