Cancer: Home Treatment for Mouth Sores

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. If your child is under 2 years of age, ask your doctor if you can give your child numbing medicines.

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.


Current as of: December 17, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Douglas A. Stewart MD - Medical Oncology

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