The sad truth is that in the United States, one in three people will get some form of cancer during their lifetime. There are many treatments that can cure cancer if it is caught early enough. Treatments can include anything from surgery to radiation or hormone therapy. Regardless of the type of treatment, it is important for their patient and their families to realize that there can often be oral complications from cancer therapy. It is important to see your dental team for preventative care before, during and after cancer treatments to avoid complications.
Before cancer treatment begins, it is important to start with a clean and healthy mouth. This means a mouth free of decay, plaque build up and gum disease. Bacteria in the mouth can develop into an infection when the immune system becomes comprimised during cancer therapy. Irritated tissues can become worse and sores can appear in the mouth. Infection and sores can be painful for the patient making eating much more difficult and lower their quality of life.
During cancer treatments it is important to have your oral health monitored. Side effected from treatment and medications can often lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth can lead to infection, decay, discomfort and difficulty eating or swallowing. Your hygienist will be a great resource for hygiene techniques and educate you on appropriate saliva substitutes and cavity preventing toothpastes. Your dentist will monitor your teeth closely for any sign of decay.
After cancer therapy, a thourough cleaning and check up are important to diagnose any dental decay, perminant damage to teeth, tissue, salivary glands or even surrounding bone. Since each patient is different, it is important to monitor for the specific needs they may have.
Although cancer treatment is difficult and often exhausting, remembering to focus on dental care throughout will only benefit a patient in the long run. It is still possible to enjoy life after recovery. Make sure you have the healthy smile to prove it.