Cancer is a major burden of disease worldwide. Each year, tens of millions of people are diagnosed with cancer around the world.
When a person receives the overwhelming news that they have been diagnosed with cancer the last thing they want to do is visit the dentist. A dental exam is important before any chemo and radiation in order to deal with any cavities, abscessed teeth, and periodontal disease that may become more acute during cancer treatment. Dental treatment may also be contraindicated during radiation and chemo when the immune system is compromised so it is important to get your overall health and oral health in optimal condition. This is even more critical when you are dealing with cancers of the head and neck as radiation will decrease saliva flow and increase risk of cavities. Saliva balances the acids in the mouth and once this is gone acids attack the teeth creating a cavity prone individual. Dealing with infections are harder and if there is a pre-existing infection you want to deal with it before cancer treatment to reduce risk of fever, infection spreading.
Your dentist may fabricate custom fluoride trays that will help you reduce your risks of cavities during treatment and her or she will put together an oral hygiene routine that will help reduce any side effects caused by cancer treatment.
During cancer treatment dental treatment maybe contraindicated but regular care is recommended once you complete your treatment.
Side effect of cancer treatment may be
*changes in taste (dysgeusia) or smell
*dry mouth (xerostomia)
*infections and mouth sores
*pain or swelling in your mouth (oral mucositis)
*sensitivity to hot or cold foods
*swallowing problems (dysphagia)
*tooth decay (cavities)
If at any time you have concerns with any oral issues you should seek medical attention while some medication can be prescribed to help reduce the symptoms
Pass this along to anyone you know who is fighting this battle.
Dr. Sharon Walden