Developing primarily in cancer patients receiving radiation or chemotherapy, Oral Mucositis is a breakdown and ulceration of the mucosa lining the gastrointestinal tract. The thin lining is highly susceptible to most common cancer treatments and tends to break down within the first 1-2 weeks after initiating therapy and can last for up to 8 weeks in many cases. Frequently, the manifestation of mucositis is in the mouth and can be particularly painful for patients even interfering with speech, eating, or even opening and closing the mouth.
Mucositis causes erythema and ulceration in areas of the gastrointestinal tract. Patients tend to experience discomfort, reddening of tissues, lesions, and may even experience changes in taste.
Though mucositis is not entirely preventable in these patients, there are recommended treatments to maintain the integrity of the oral environment, reduce pain, and encourage healing. Typical treatments include:
- Brushing 2-3 times daily with a soft bristled nylon toothbrush
- Oral rinses of saltwater, chlorhexidine gluconate, and other gentle cleansers
- Water soluble lubricants such as dry mouth gel
- Medications for pain and infection