Cancer & Oral Health

Cancer patients are prone to develop oral and dental conditions. This may be due to medications, chemotherapy drug side effects, weakened immune function and side effects from other treatments such as radiation. These oral conditions can include weak gums and teeth, dry mouth, infections causing more decay and cavities, mouth sores, dry mouth, jaw and oral pain. In case of oral cancers, the symptoms usually start in the mouth and the dentist may notice these before the patient. Oral cancer can be prevented by quitting excessive smoking and alcohol. It can also be prevented by making sure the patient is vaccinated for HPV. Regular dental visits can help keep in diagnosing the cancer early.

Dental health affects the overall health and so it is important that cancer patients do not ignore their dental problems and address them as soon as possible. Regular dental visits are also a must for cancer patients. Depending on patient’s condition and stage of cancer, it is helpful if the dentist is notified of the cancer treatment plan, schedule and type of medications or chemo drugs that will be administered. Sometimes cancer patients are terminal and require palliative oral care.


Effects Of Cancer Treatment On Oral Health

As cancer treatments affect your overall health and immune system, it is important to ensure that your dental issues if any, are addressed prior to starting the cancer treatment. If there is an existing condition is urgent and requires immediate dental treatment, you should consider talking to your doctor or oncologist to check when if you should do the dental procedure before starting the cancer treatment or if it can be delayed.

Treatments such as radiation can cause damage to salivary glands which can lead to severe dry mouth along with changes in the consistency of the saliva. Dry mouth also leads to decay, cavities and infections. Dentists may recommend special care and treatments to address this issue.


Taking Care Of Oral Health When You Have Cancer

Taking care of dental health all throughout cancer treatment and even later, can help to keep the side effects in check and allow you to heal in a better way. Make sure to involve your dentist and your oncologist in your dental care plan. Our dentists have provided certain recommendations for maintaining your oral health before, during and after cancer treatments:

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