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Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. These drugs kill cancer cells, but they may also harm normal cells, including cells in your mouth. Side effects include problems with your teeth and gums, the soft moist lining of your mouth, and the glands that makes saliva. Mouth problems that can be caused by chemotherapy are: painful mouth and gums, dry mouth, burning, peeling, swelling tongue, infection, and change in taste.

To help prevent serious problems, it is recommended that you see your dentist one month before starting chemotherapy for an oral checkup and cleaning of your teeth. Once your treatment starts, it is important to look in your mouth every day for sores or other changes. You will also need to do the following: brush your teeth and tongue gently with an extra soft toothbrush after each meal and at bedtime, gently floss your teeth daily, keep your mouth moist, and avoid the use of tobacco and alcohol.

You may also find that you cannot tolerate foods with extreme temperature, or highly seasoned spicy foods. Oral hygiene products need to be free of alcohol and strong chemicals.