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Oral care helps children with cancer

This week is ‘Week van de mondzorg’ (Oral Care Week) in the Máxima Center. Due to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, for example, children with cancer often have sore mouths and brushing their teeth is quite a challenge. Good education about oral care is important.
This week has been declared ‘Week of Oral Care’ at the Máxima Center. Ida Ophorst and Sabien Bos-Abeling, pediatric oncology nurses and nursing research expert, have organized a number of activities to make everyone more aware: oral care is an important part of nursing care. Discussing oral care with parent and child has positive consequences: the severity and duration of mucositis can decrease and fewer infections and dental problems, such as caries, may develop.'

Updated oral care guideline

'We also present an updated oral care guideline. Among other things, every child gets a preventive screening by the dentist from the first admission and the oral hygienist can be called in in case of oral complaints during treatment. The nurse provides information and advice on oral care and mucositis and hands out the sMiley toiletry bag plus a card with tips. The sum of money we won two years ago (OncoCareChallenge ed.) was used to purchase a mobile dental lamp. We also bought oral care products to treat pain and dry mouth. This week the first sMiley toiletry bags in Máxima style will be distributed. We provide the bags with targeted advice included,’ says Ida.

Mouth care

A feasibility study into the use of a mouth care list has recently been conducted. Sabien Bos-Abeling explains: 'This way we have a quicker view of children who have mouth problems and can respond immediately. Some children have irritated or broken mucous membrane, a lot of (tough) mucus in their mouth and dry chapped lips. An important advice is to brush teeth 3 times a day. And if this fails, rinse the mouth with 0.05% chlorhexidine. This is to keep the mouth as clean as possible. The dental hygienist and pain counseler can also provide good tips and resources to reduce pain and promote recovery. It takes more than a little Labello!’

Toiletry bag

Ida and Sabien enthusiastically talk about the orange gift for children during Oral Care Week: 'Children who are admitted this week receive a sMiley toiletry bag (‘M’ of mouth and mucositis). Inside the bag is a soft toothbrush, mint-free toothpaste and Vaseline for the lips. We hope with this new oral care guideline to reduce both short-term and long-term symptoms. Good oral care helps children with cancer and contributes to a better quality of life.'