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Home > Daily Dental Care > Overall Health > Oral Health & Disease > Side Effects From Illness Can Affect the Oral Cavity
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Side Effects From Illness Can Affect the Oral Cavity

Some illnesses can affect the oral cavity.

Some illnesses, from the common cold to severe immuno-compromising diseases, include among their side effects mouth pain and sores, difficulty swallowing, dulled taste sensation, loss of appetite and others.

"The first strategy is to see a physician or dentist to determine the underlying cause of the problem," says Mike Stablein, D.D.S., a periodontist who practices in Chicago. "In the meantime, there are things we can do to minimize these problems, or at least get the nutrients we need by following some basic guidelines."

Dr. Stablein recommends that patients try the following tips when they experience a side effect from illness that affects the oral cavity.

Mouth Sores or Pain

  • First, try eating soft foods such as pudding, eggs, noodles and rice dishes.
  • Consider dipping toast, crackers or cookies in liquid, such as milk or soup, to make them softer to eat.
  • Eat foods at room temperature instead of when they are very hot or very cold.
  • Limit use of salt and spices.
  • Choose foods and beverages that do not irritate; for example, choose tea instead of orange juice, which is an acidic drink.
  • Consider a nutritionally balanced liquid formula to get more calories into your diet.

Difficulty Swallowing

  • First, avoid foods that take effort to swallow, such as peanut butter.
  • Avoid slippery foods that slide down the throat quickly and can cause choking. These include Jell-O®, lunch meat or macaroni.
  • Avoid small, single particle foods such as nuts, corn or rice that can stick in the throat.
  • Eat single-textured foods such as puddings, oatmeal or mashed potatoes instead of foods with several textures, such as salads which have soft and crunchy items.
  • Drink liquids with a straw.

Dulled Sense of Taste

  • Eat a variety of flavors and textures to make foods tastier.
  • Add items such as chopped onions, garlic, cheeses or other items to add flavor.
  • Pick aromatic foods that will make you want to eat them.
  • Eat acidic foods to help thin saliva and make it easier to chew.
  • Marinate foods before cooking them.
  • If you experience dry mouth, try chewing on small ice chips, hard sugar-free candy or sugarless gum to promote saliva flow.

"Again, I would stress that patients consult a professional to determine what's causing these oral side effects," cautions Dr. Stablein. "Hopefully, the illness will pass quickly and the patient can get back to a normal diet and eating lifestyle."

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