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Greater focus on oral care

Good education about oral care is important to reduce oral symptoms during treatment. Children in the Máxima Center receive an orange toiletry bag with contents and an information card with tips. 

Children being treated for cancer often suffer from a sore, chapped or dry mouth and therefore have difficulty eating and drinking. Brushing teeth is also a big challenge. Ida Ophorst, pediatric oncology nurse and nursing expert, says: ‘Basically, every child receives a preventive screening with the dentist and dental hygienist from the first admission. Nurses provide information and advice on oral care and mucositis and hands out the sMiley toiletry bag plus an information card with tips. By providing targeted advice, the severity and duration of oral symptoms can be reduced. The dental hygienist can also be called in for oral symptoms during treatment. We have been working with the new oral care guideline for almost a year now.’ 

Daily care 

Discussing oral care with parent and child has positive effects: the severity and duration of mucositis can decrease, and fewer infections and dental problems, such as caries, may develop. The guideline at the Máxima Center is intended to reduce both short-term and long-term oral health problems. The first evaluation shows that more attention has been paid to oral care and more children (65%) receive oral care education twice. The sMiley toiletry bag is also well liked and is already being given to the majority of children (60%). The intention is to increase these percentages. Children, parents and nurses need to pay more attention to oral care. Ida: ‘Integrating oral care into daily care remains an area of focus.’ 


An important advice is to brush teeth 3 times a day. And if this fails, rinse the mouth with 0.05% chlorhexidine. This keeps the mouth as clean as possible. The children are given a soft toothbrush, mint-free toothpaste and Vaseline for the lips. Ida: ‘We hope that with proper education we can reduce symptoms in the short and longer term. Good oral care helps children with cancer and contributes to a better quality of life.'