Dental health and mouth ulcers

Hi all,

I just got back from seeing the dentist for a check up. An appt. I brought forward so I could get it out of the way before I start chemo. next week. I thought it might be useful to share the following, as the dentist knows I am having chemo. and he made the following recommendations.

He suggested a mouthwash called Fluorigard, which is readily available. It can be used more than once a day and has a high fluoride content, which is why he recommends it. From a dental point of view the biggest issue with chemo is a reduction in saliva which effects the ph of the mouth and means any sugar on the teeth can do its worst. He said to cut out sticky sweets and dried fruit like raisins that can get caught up at the base of the teeth near the gums. Corsodyl daily, once a day if you are prone to gum problems. Don’t use the full strength Corsodyl unless you have active gum disease as it can stain the teeth brown.The brown staining may happen even if you are not having chemo. Corsodyl contains chlorhexadine which can also help with any mouth ulcers.

Brush regularly: teeth, gums and tongue, after every meal, if possible. Keep flossing or using teepees, the little brushes that you can put between the teeth.

For mouth ulcers, Bonjela. You can also get something called Orabase from the chemist, which is a paste that sticks to the mouth ulcer and covers it.It doesn’t have an active ingredient but should make you more comfortable. If the Bonjela isn’t working go see your dentist or GP. They may be able to prescribe something more effective. If anyone has had a prescription for mouth ulcers, I would be interested to know what was prescribed and how effective you found it to be.

Finally, if you haven’t seen the hygienist for awhile, make an appt before you start chemo. to get your teeth nice and clean.

Hope this is useful.


Hi Tina

I was prescribed Gelclair satchets - they are hard to come by and expensive, so unfortunately not all GP’s will prescribe. I was fortunate. Similar - they treat the symptoms not the cause, so not preventative but the comfort level was so much better than without them.


My onc has given me difflam mouthwash which I use morning and at night. It is available on pescription, and is therefore free. I have just been to the dentist, having been in chemo since september. One of my teeth broke. He has patched me up so its not a problem. I was told to use a baby toothbrush due to the gums becoming sensitive, and not to use too much toothpaste.
x sarah

I also had Difflam prescribed and I’m making sure I use it all up, even though my chemo has finished. My mouth has been sensitive and a couple of times cold sores have started, but they’ve gone away fairly quickly. The hygienist I saw before chemo kindly gave me samples of some different toothpastes for sensitive teeth and I bought a child’s toothbrush. The Difflam also helped to rid my mouth of unpleasant tastes when I had them and didn’t taste to bad. I had a sore throat at one point, so I gargled it as well.

I have found that I am more likely to have food caught between my teeth than usual, or perhaps I’ve just been more aware of it, so I got some dental sticks. I don’t like the mini bottle brush kind, but I found some which have little rubbery bristles which I find softer and more comfortable. They come in strips; you break one off and then throw it away afterwards.

Obviously anyone who develops a sore that doesn’t go away, has a real tooth problem or anything with a fever needs to phone about it as something more specific might be needed.


Hi Tina,

Having been there and done that I can only say that you should not use anything strong in your mouth for a while. Baby toothpaste and a baby brush are the best. Mouthwashes, very diluted, may make the taste in your mouth a little better but they don’t achieve much. This according to my dentist who I also went to before I started chemo. He also said that only people who have had chemo will know what the side effects are with them. He suggested I asked anyone I knew who had had chemo what worked for them.

I had a friend who had mouth ulcers so badly that she could not eat and could hardly drink. I decided that I was not going to suffer like that so I did some research. I then used pure pineapple juice to swish around my mouth and also swallowed a little four times a day. I had 6 Tax and only one ulcer and that was my fault. I stopped using the pineapple a week after my last Tax and I should have stayed on it for another week. Mind you, I cannot face pineapple any more but it did work. I got my juice from the supermarket. It must be pure. One of my friends cut a fresh pineapple into squares and would suck one to moisten her mouth.

I took iced lollies with me when I went for my chemo and would suck 2 of them and found that this helped a lot in keeping down the side effects.

Hope this helps and good luck with your treatment.


A useful point to note - my dentist sells Fluorigard but gave it to me on prescription instead so that I got it free.

Just in case anyone doesn’t know - if you have a cancer diagnosis you get 5 years’ free prescriptions - just get the form from your GP surgery, fill it in, the GP signs it and sends it off and you’ll get an exemption card in the post.

It includes prescriptions issued by your dentist, although sadly not dental treatment.

Jane xxx

I’ve been prone to mouth ulcers for years but hadn’t had any for a few years before DX. I then had 4 of the buggers (3 on tongue & 1 on inside cheek) leading up to FEC 2. My chemo nurse gave me a bag full of the Gelclair sachets for any future flare-ups. FEC 2-3 & 3-4 were clear but unfortunately I got 2 at the end of last week(humungous one on tongue + inside cheek again). I’ve got FEC 5 tomorrow & not sure Gelclair is helping much.
My dentist advised me (pre start of chemo)to use ProEnamel toothpaste (already was using it) and Peroxyl mouthwash but I bowed to the advice from the hospital & have been using Corsodyl mouthwash instead (alcohol free for less dry mouth afterwards).
I already eat quite a lot of pineapple as I love it anyway so think that I’ll just up the number of times I swill with salt water & keep my fingers crossed for the remainder of my chemo.
Good luck to everyone & good luck in finding any ‘solution’.
Chris x

If you get desperate and can’t get to the doctor, Difflam can be purchased over the counter at your pharmacy. It can be prescribed, too and this would be much better in terms of cost.
Some people have used Gelclair. This is a prescription only medicine so you will need to see your doctor. As mentioned, it is expensive. MIMS says it is about £1.50 a sachet. At that price some doctors may be reluctant to prescribe it but I would push for it if I was in alot of pain.

I am going to get some of those dental sticks, thanks for the tip Cheryl.

Pineapple. I like pineapple. I am even planning on taking some pineapple ice lollies with me to my chemo.I have already got them in the freezer. Would I rinse my mouth out with pineapple juice, regularly? No. If it works for you, go ahead, but I have had to pay out alot for dental work in recent years including seeing a peridontist who charged an amount which still gives me nightmares, so I am anxious to do the best for my teeth and gums while I am having treatment. Pineapple juice is not as acid as citrus and other juices but the sugar content is higher. Sugar and teeth are not a marriage made in heaven.

I forgot to say that my dentist mentioned rinsing my mouth with salt water. The National Cancer Institute in the US actually has a recipe(!). To each cup of warm water, add 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda. Take small sips and swish around the mouth every 3 hours. The American cup is about 240 mls, if any one wants to give this a go. It doesn’t cure mouth ulcers but is a preventative for good oral health.

I am checking with my dentist if I need a baby toothbrush or just a soft adult toothbrush. I am hoping he has some samples he can give me for free.

I’ve had one small ulcer, where a tooth was rubbing under my tongue. Never noticed it before. I used corsodyl non alcohol version before I started chemo. I’ve changed my electric toothbrush head for one for sensitive teeth and am using it with no problems. My toothpaste has helped enormously. Using Tandasta organic fennel and propolis toothpaste for sensitive teeth and gums. When I’ve brushed I don’t rinse my mouth. It’s very soothing. I clean my tongue regularly with a scraper. Sounds gross but needs to be done. Try and brush after every meal.

All good advice above but for those of you who hate mouthwash (I only used it about 3 times during chemo), you might still be OK. I finished chemo in March and have just been for my 6 monthly dental check. I didn’t need anything doing at all. The dentist put one tooth on ‘watch’ to look at in 6 months’ time.

As for ulcers, the driving and waiting time made it impossible for me to take ice lollies when having chemo, so I used to freeze a bottle of water and drink iced water during chemo - makes you need the loo but did stop my ulcers.