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Cancer: Home Treatment for Mouth Sores - Topic Overview

A painful sore or ulcer inside your mouth may make it hard to eat and drink. Be sure to let your doctor know you are having mouth sores. You may need to have your medicines adjusted. And try some of the following home treatment measures to help ease pain and speed healing.

What to eat and drink

  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Suck on ice chips, or try chilled foods, such as frozen ice pops, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.
  • Try warm liquids, such as tea or soup.
  • Eat soft, bland foods that are easy to swallow, such as ice cream, custard, applesauce, cottage cheese, macaroni and cheese, soft-cooked eggs, yogurt, or cream soups.
  • Cut foods into small pieces, or grind, mash, blend, or puree foods.
  • Stay away from:
    • Spicy and salty foods, coffee, chocolate, citrus fruits, and tomatoes.
    • Nuts, seeds, or potato chips or crackers that can scrape your mouth.
    • Fizzy drinks, alcoholic drinks, and all tobacco products.
    • Anything that is sweet or too hot or too cold if it makes your mouth hurt.

How to keep your mouth clean

  • Rinse your mouth several times a day. You can use 1 cup of warm water mixed with 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and 1/8 teaspoon salt, followed by rinsing your mouth with plain water.
  • Use an extra-soft toothbrush and a mild toothpaste.
    • You can soften your toothbrush in hot water before using it. If using a toothbrush is too painful, try using soft foam mouth swabs.
    • Stay away from whitening toothpastes because they can irritate a sore mouth.
  • Gently floss your teeth and use a mouthwash that doesn't have alcohol in it.
  • If your mouth is dry, try sugarless gum or candy. Or talk to your doctor about using a saliva substitute to keep your mouth moist.

How to reduce pain

  • Use a straw for drinking liquids.
  • Make a thin paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the sore. Or you can use a cotton swab to dab your sores with a liquid antacid, such as Maalox or Mylanta.

Try using a nonprescription medicine such as Anbesol or Orabase to coat your mouth sores before eating.

To help ease pain, use a nonprescription medicine, such as Amosan, Anbesol, Gly-Oxide, Orabase, or Zilactin. Check with a doctor for correct dosage before using any of these on a baby or child.

If painful mouth sores are keeping you from being able to eat, talk to your doctor. He or she may prescribe medicines that can help with mouth pain.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 29, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

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    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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