One of the most frequent conditions in people with cancer is the inflammation that develops inside the mouth and throat, which can cause painful and annoying sores. This ailment is known as mucositis.
What is mucositis?
Mucositis has the main characteristic of being painful; On many occasions, it significantly weakens the patient’s body and defences. The inflammation of the tissues covers the entire interior of the mouth and part of the mucous membrane.
Mucositis can appear in people undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatments but also in people with a weak immune system, regardless of whether they have cancer.
What are the causes of mucositis?
Mucositis appears for the following reasons:
Chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment
Chemotherapy drugs attack cancer cells, but they also affect healthy cells. Unfortunately, neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy has the power to distinguish between cells.
Therapies to eradicate cancer can attack healthy cells in the oral cavity, among others. As a result, the tissue becomes somewhat vulnerable to ulceration or infection from mucositis under attack. And it is that immune systems that have been weakened have less resistance to mucositis.
Mucositis generally appears within 5 to 10 days after starting chemotherapy treatment.
Diseases that affect the immune system
Genetic predisposition to periodontal diseases can be a trigger for oral mucositis.
Tobacco consumption has innumerable adverse health effects, and the oral cavity is not far behind. This product’s consumption causes complications in the mucous membranes, giving rise to mucositis.
What types of mucositis exist?
Currently, mucositis is classified into the following typologies:
It originates after inflammation of the soft tissues and manifests itself only in the area surrounding the dental implant. It is considered a reversible pathology since it does not produce a bone loss.
This pathology is equivalent to periodontitis; inflammation develops in the soft and hard tissues surrounding the implant. It also puts the implant at risk of being lost since it can cause the destruction of the affected bone and cause severe aesthetic consequences, among which we highlight gum recession.
This type of mucositis tends to appear five or six days after chemotherapy, but since there is no evidence of infection, it can heal independently.
In some instances, it appears after three days and does not last beyond ten or fifteen days later if it is chemotherapy. However, if we talk about radiotherapy, its duration ends after six or eight weeks in full post-treatment.
This is the most serious and appears seven days after starting antineoplastic treatment. In its path, it causes ulcerative wounds throughout the gastrointestinal tract.
What are the main symptoms of mucositis?
If you detect the following symptoms, you should consult your dentist:
A significant change in the mouth
It manifests itself with a red, swollen and severely sore mouth. Different reddened and edematous areas may appear in the oral mucosa. These lesions tend to progress and pass to a state of desquamation. That is why the terminal stage is the appearance of painful ulcers.
bleeding in the mouth
Frequent bleeding in the mouth is a symptom that reflects the severity of the condition, but it cannot be overlooked.
pus in the mouth
Pus indicates that the blood has become infected and rotten, a vital sign that an infection is present.
In addition, increased oral mucus is experienced, and saliva becomes thicker.
Other tissues that are part of the oral cavity, such as the gums or the tongue, can also be affected by mucositis.
These symptoms manifest with difficulty when eating because of the pain, and even basic actions such as swallowing or speaking are greatly affected by this pathology. Mucositis can also become the root cause of food and drink intolerance. That is why it can start a process of malnutrition and dehydration.
How to treat mucositis?
Mucositis can be treated with home remedies, such as:
You should not suck or chew them. Before and after each treatment session, ice cubes could protect the tissues against the session.
salt water rinses
In these cases, regularly using salt water rinses as part of your oral care routine is essential, as it will help you prevent or reduce the problematic situation of mucositis.
You should avoid spicy, acidic, salty, caffeinated, dry or hot foods, as they can irritate the affected tissues.
If home remedies do not have the expected effect in relieving pain and discomfort, your dentist will probably proceed to prescribe one of the following medications:
That it be of powerful action, with an anaesthetic agent to facilitate the numbness of the mouth’s interior.
In a presentation of gel or spray to numb the affected and painful area of the mouth.
Bencidamine or corticosteroids
This to relieve oral pain.
They are meant to cover the lining of the mouth and all the nerve endings.
If you are due to undergo head or neck chemotherapy soon, we recommend seeking out a dentist who cares for cancer patients for extra guidance. Also, consult your oncologist or doctor about other methods and medications certified by the health authority that guarantees protection against mucositis.
How do avoid the appearance of mucositis?
Here are some tips to avoid the appearance of mucositis:
Eat soft foods
For example, milk or fruit smoothies, puddings, pasta, oatmeal and mashed potatoes. High-protein soft foods like yoghurt are also a great option.
Consume seedless fruits
These contain a high percentage of water and make purees of foods such as vegetables and fruits, which facilitates eating.
Eat food covered in olive oil.
Also, canola usually helps in consuming small bites because they slide better.
It would help if you were adequately hydrated and constantly consume liquids, especially water. Hot tea can also be a calming drink. First of all, you have to avoid drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol.
It is essential to avoid alcohol in your mouthwash, so choose a product that does not contain this component. Keeping your oral care routine in tip-top shape is necessary to preserve your overall health. Brush your teeth after each meal with a soft bristle toothbrush and floss at least once a day.
To avoid the use of tobacco.
This must be complete, which means not smoking or chewing it. In addition, your dentist may be able to suggest a solution known as magic mouthwash, which has a mixture of numbing ingredients, antacids, antibiotics, antihistamines, or antifungals that can be over-the-counter or prescription.
Protect your oral health from mucositis with the Vinateros Dental Clinic
At the Madrid Dental Clinic, we guarantee you the best quality and effective services that you deserve and are looking for.
With us, you will put your oral health in the hands of a great team of qualified professionals who are constantly training to offer you the most effective treatments at the forefront of technology.
Do you suffer from mucositis? Contact us and get your first free visit. Your case will be treated in a personalized way. We will wait for you.