Two Oral Health Issues That Must Be Addressed Before Starting Chemotherapy

Dentist Blog

Chemotherapy can successfully eradicate cancer. Because it affects all cells in the body, however, it can have a negative impact on your oral health, which may lead to problems consuming foods and drinks. One way to reduce the risk of experiencing oral side effects is to eliminate as many existing dental problems as possible before being treated. Here are two issues you should resolve prior to getting chemo.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is an oral infection caused by bacteria. The bacteria secrete a sticky substance called plaque that eventually hardens into tartar if not brushed away every day. In addition to causing cavities, tartar aggravates the gums, making them bleed and eventually recede. Periodontal disease starts off as gingivitis (i.e. gum inflammation) but gradually advances into full-blown periodontitis if left untreated, which can lead to tooth and bone loss.

As noted previously, chemotherapy affects all the cells in the body, including those associated with your immune system. This increases your risk of developing infections and makes it harder for your body to fight them off. If you already have a periodontal disease when you start chemotherapy, the infection may rapidly worsen, and you may develop oral side effects—such as sores and tongue swelling—sooner than anticipated.

It can take a few weeks to a couple of months to completely cure periodontal disease, depending on how severe your condition is. However, anything you can do to reduce the infection in the time you have available will ultimately benefit you.

Dry Mouth

One of the side effects of chemotherapy is dry mouth. If you're already suffering from this condition when you start chemo, the therapy may worsen it. Saliva is necessary for removing leftover food particles and bacteria, so when your mouth doesn't produce enough moisture, you become more susceptible to periodontal disease and cavities.

Like periodontal disease, it may not be possible to completely fix this issue before you start chemo. However, your dentist can recommend some treatments that may minimize it before and during your cancer treatment. For instance, using a special medicinal mouthwash can eliminate bacteria. Some medications can help increase saliva production, though you need to consult with your doctor first to ensure the medicine won't cause complications with your chemo.

There are several other things you may need to do before undergoing chemo to protect your oral health. Connect with a dentist like Kuban David S DDS in your area for more information and advice.


11 March 2017

Improving My Dental Appointments

After dealing with a few root canals, I realized that it was time to take my dental hygiene a more seriously. I talked with my dentist about what I could do differently, and he was full of great suggestions that would help. He walked me through different ways to brush, floss, and take care of tartar buildup, and it was really amazing to see the difference that it made. I also started taking a fluoride supplement to strengthen my enamel. When I made it to my next appointment, my dentist was blown away with the improvement. This blog is all about improving your dental appointments by keeping your teeth healthier.