Anaida Deti, owner and CEO of DentalX, and a registered dental hygienist explains how crucial dental health is before undergoing cancer treatment.
Those undergoing cancer treatment have to endure a lot – emotionally, psychologically and physically. But there is one aspect of cancer treatment that isn’t widely known: how it negatively affects dental health, including the teeth, gums, salivary glands and other oral tissues. One of the first things that those anticipating chemotherapy or radiation treatment should do in preparation is to book an appointment with their dentist and dental hygienist.
Research shows that fewer complications will develop when pre-existing oral issues are taken care of and then maintained throughout the treatment. If not, then patients risk infection from swollen, bleeding gums or mouth sores during chemotherapy.
These side effects can be painful, but there are ways to minimize & prevent them. Here are a few of Anaida’s tips on how to prevent problems and preserve your dental health during cancer treatment:
1.Book an appointmentbefore you start treatment: Book a cleaning and scaling before treatment. Any emerging dental concerns or cavities can be treated right away before they become problematic. Otherwise they may be put on the back burner for months until you are well enough to handle anesthetics and dental procedures in a sore mouth.
2.Don’t get booked up: The side effects and nausea that often accompany chemotherapy will prevent most from venturing out and seeking regular oral maintenance. Coupled with the sheer number of medical appointments that will be on your calendar, getting these types of non-urgent appointments before will also reduce the number of medical/health appointments you have do schedule and organize the coming year.
3. Medication: There are specific medications that can ease discomfort and prevent sores; these can be prescribed by a doctor. Pain medicine, such as Tylenol or stronger, may be used.
4. Work with your dental professional:Your dental hygienist and oncologist can work together to make you as comfortable as possible and can offer recommendations to help ease the pain and simple ways to manage the oral side effects.
5.Oral health routine: Unless otherwise recommended, continue to gently brush teeth twice per day with fluoride toothpaste, and gently floss once a day.