Treating cancer is challenging at the best of times, and side effects like mouth sores only make it more difficult. Magic mouthwash is one of several treatments that can alleviate a sore mouth caused by chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After considering your remedy options, determine with your doctor if this mouthwash is right for you.
Cancer Treatment and Mouth Sores
Chemotherapy and radiation therapy destroy cancer cells, but the treatments can also harm the cells in the mouth and throat, causing a condition called oral mucositis. Symptoms of oral mucositis include dry mouth, swollen gums, difficulty swallowing and sores in the mouth or on the gums.
Magic mouthwash is a generic term for any mouthwash formulated to alleviate the symptoms of oral mucositis. The mouthwash must be prescribed by a doctor and may be created by the pharmacist from a premeasured kit or made to order. According to the Mayo Clinic, the mouthwashes usually contain three or more of the following ingredients: an antibiotic, a local anesthetic or an antihistamine, an antifungal, a corticosteroid and an antacid, which assists in making sure the liquid effectively coats the mouth. Designed with symptoms of oral mucositis in mind, the mouthwash is intended to reduce the risk of infections, pain and swelling in the mouth.
Using Magic Mouthwash
Magic mouthwashes are similar to other kinds of mouthwashes. The patient holds the mouthwash in the mouth for one to two minutes, then spits it out or swallows it, according to their doctor's instructions. After using the mouthwash, the patient shouldn't eat or drink anything for 30 minutes to allow the ingredients to take effect. Doctors typically recommend using magic mouthwash every four to six hours.
The jury is still out on the efficacy of magic mouthwashes, as noted by the Mayo Clinic. Due to the range of formulations and the lack of definitive research, it's hard to know how well the mouthwashes ease the pain of mouth sores and other symptoms of oral mucositis. When considering this treatment, make sure to note that magic mouthwashes can cause their own set of side effects, including a tingling or burning sensation, constipation, nausea, diarrhea and drowsiness.
Alternative Mouth Sore Treatments
Magic mouthwashes are only one of many treatments for mouth sores. If you've been prescribed a mouthwash but aren't seeing results, speak to your specialist. The American Society of Clinical Oncology lists several alternative treatments for oral mucositis, such as acetaminophen you can buy over the counter, ice chips and prescription pain medications. Avoid taking aspirin during cancer treatment, and speak with your doctor if you are unsure about which medications are appropriate. For a homemade treatment, try swishing a diluted dose of milk of magnesia around your mouth.
If you're suffering from mouth sores or other symptoms of oral mucositis, a magic mouthwash may be able to help. These prescribed treatments may ease the pain in your mouth and reduce your risk of developing an infection. But keep in mind that even if you don't experience relief, other treatments are available.