As many as four out of every ten people will be diagnosed with some type of cancer over the course of their lifetime. Cancer treatment has come a long way in its ability to send patients into remission. However, popular cancer treatments often involves therapies that can produce uncomfortable side-effects, especially within your mouth.
Chemotherapy is the most common form of treatment used to kill cancerous cells. Unfortunately, the drugs can also harm the healthy cells of the body, including the delicate and sensitive tissue cells of your mouth. In fact, it is common for chemo patients to encounter problems with their teeth, gums and salivary glands. These cannot only be uncomfortable to deal with, but they can also pose a threat to your oral health.
Dental Drawbacks of Chemotherapy
When faced between treating cancer with chemotherapy or avoiding dental side-effects, most patients opt for cancer drugs because it can be a matter of life and death. While every patient responds differently, chemotherapy is known for causing several disruptive side effects. One common drawback is a dry mouth. This happens when the salivary glands become damaged.
Dry mouth (or xerostomia) can make it difficult to swallow, eat and speak. More importantly, low saliva production increases your risk for oral health problems, including decay, bad breath and gum disease. Chemotherapy is also associated with painful mouth sores, loss of taste and prolonged bleeding. This makes it critical that you discuss you any past chemotherapy history with your dentist before beginning any type of dental procedure or oral surgery.
What Can You Do?
It may not be possible to prevent chemotherapy side effects from occurring altogether. However, there are things you can do to lessen their harm and discomfort. Before initiating chemotherapy, make sure you schedule a visit with us at Park South Dentistry. We will make sure you are free of pre-existing dental problems and give your teeth and gums a proper cleaning. During your treatment, which may occur over a period of several weeks or months, it is very important that you monitor your dental health on a routine basis. It may help to suck on ice chips or chew sugarless gum to keep your mouth moist. If your dry mouth is severe, ask us about a prescription dry mouth solution. At Park South Dentistry, we will do everything we can to keep your smile healthy and comfortable while you fight cancer.