Cancer Treatment and Dental Health
Cancer patients need to take care of their overall health to ensure that they feel their best. This includes dental health, which can sometimes be affected by cancer treatment. To keep dental and oral health problems at a minimum while undergoing treatment for cancer, you should visit the dentist before your treatment begins if possible. Starting out cancer treatment with your mouth in good health can keep oral health problems to a minimum during treatment.
Different types of cancer treatment can cause different oral health problems. Chemotherapy can sometimes harm normal cells at the same time that it is killing cancer cells. Inside of your mouth this can result in changes that can make food taste different than normal, and it may also cause mouth sores, peeling or burning tongue, dry mouth or pain in your mouth or in your gums. Radiation treatment to the neck or the head may cause some of these same symptoms temporarily, but in some cases they can last for years after treatment. Leukemia or lymphoma patients who undergo a stem cell transplant are usually given high doses of cancer drugs prior to the procedure, which increases the likelihood of oral health side effects.
Relieving the side effects of cancer treatment is an important part of cancer care. When you have problems related to your mouth or teeth, you should report them to your doctor or dentist. Mouth sores and other pain in your mouth can be relieved by medications, and any infections that develop in your mouth can be treated with antibiotics. You can help dry mouth by drinking water or sugarless drinks, or by sucking on ice chips. Avoid smoking, sugary drinks and alcohol, which may make dry mouth worse. When dry mouth is serious, medications may be prescribed that stimulate saliva production.
At Alabama Family Dentistry we believe that prevention is important for good oral health, and this is especially true when other health problems may cause or aggravate oral health issues. If you are going to be having treatment for cancer, make a dental appointment as soon as possible. If any oral health problems exist, it is best to have them treated before cancer treatment starts. Some procedures may have to wait until after cancer treatment is completed. Keep regular dental appointments during your treatment and keep up with your regular dental care at home. You should report any pain or discomfort in your mouth to the dentist.
If you would like to learn more about how cancer treatment can affect your dental health, give us a call or contact us through our web site. Alabama Family Dentistry provides a full range of dental services in the Birmingham area and can set up an appointment for you at your convenience at any of our four locations.