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4 Things You Can Do To Protect Oral Health During Cancer Treatment

4ThingsYouCanDoToProtectOralHealthDuringCancerTreatment

Despite momentous strides in recent years in the fight against cancer, treatments can still disrupt normal life. Both radiation and chemotherapy have side effects that can cause problems in other areas of health—particularly the teeth and gums.

If you or a loved one are undergoing cancer treatment, it's important to get ahead of any potential side effects it may have on dental health. Here are 4 things that can help protect teeth and gums while undergoing cancer treatment.

Get a preliminary dental exam. Before beginning treatment, patients should have their dentist examine their teeth and gums to establish a baseline for current dental health and to treat any problems that may already exist. However, patients should only undergo dental procedures in which the recovery time can be completed before starting radiation or chemotherapy.

Be meticulous about oral hygiene. Undergoing cancer treatment can increase the risks for developing tooth decay or gum disease. That's why it's important that patients thoroughly brush and floss everyday to reduce bacterial plaque buildup that causes disease. Patients should also reduce sugar in their diets, a prime food source for bacteria, and eat “teeth-friendly” foods filled with minerals like calcium and phosphorous to keep teeth strong.

Keep up regular dental visits. The physical toll that results from cancer treatment often makes it difficult to carry on routine activities. Even so, patients should try to keep up regular dental visits during their treatment. Besides the extra disease prevention offered by dental cleanings, the dentist can also monitor for any changes in oral health and provide treatment if appropriate.

Minimize dry mouth. Undergoing cancer treatment can interfere with saliva production and flow. This can lead to chronic dry mouth and, without the full protection of saliva against dental disease, could increase the risk of tooth decay or gum disease. Patients can minimize dry mouth by drinking more water, using saliva boosters and discussing medication alternatives with their doctor.

It may not be possible to fully avoid harm to your oral health during cancer treatment, and some form of dental restoration may be necessary later. But following these guidelines could minimize the damage and make it easier to regain your dental health afterward.

If you would like more information on dental care during cancer treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”

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  • "This is a very professional place, but the atmosphere is so upbeat!!!! From the start of my interaction with the staff upon my leaving it was such a wonderful way to be treated. Everyone was so kind, caring, and considerate of my situation. They really put me at ease. The staff is Amazing!!!! I was overwhelmed by the experience. Thanks Crystal Dental Care!"
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  • "Michelle and Dr.Murphy were very helpful. Front desk ladies Tammy and I do apologize for forgetting the other ladies name, were so nice a welcoming. Everything was explained to me and I actually learn something regarding Diabetes and your oral health. Thanks again guys I will be back to get some treatments done in a few weeks."
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  • "Every staff member was kind and welcoming. I received clear and precise answers to all of my questions. Both the assistant and the dentist were gentle and respectful. I was given multiple options for a treatment plan with no pressure or up sales. It felt like affirming medical care. I’m looking forward to being a responsible and long term patient."
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