Cancer and Dental Health

It’s important to manage mouth pain because it can affect your quality of life and even slow progress toward better health. If you will undergoing treatment for cancer, you might not be thinking about oral health, but you should know that cancer treatments can affect all parts of the body, including the mouth. It can cause problems such as infection to the gums, mouth sores and tooth decay. For this reason, it is important for you to visit your dentist and to have any needed dental treatment completed prior to starting radiation treatment.

Cancer and its treatments, like chemotherapy, can weaken your immune system. If your mouth is not as healthy as possible prior to your cancer treatment, you may be more susceptible to infection. If the infection is serious enough, it develops side effects to cancer therapies and can even interfere with treatment.

In addition, radiation therapy, especially in the area of the head and neck, can damage salivary glands which can cause thick, sticky saliva and extreme dry mouth. A dry mouth can increase your chances of tooth decay and infection. Dental treatment after radiation treatment can be complicated by slow healing and the risk of infection.

If you experience any changes in your mouth, be sure to report them to your health care team. So they can recommend the best way to protect your mouth, you may experience the following:

 

  • Mouth Sores
  • Dry Mouth
  • Sensitive Gums
  • Jaw aches and pains
  • Taste changes
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Oral mucositis (inflamed mucous membranes in the mouth)

 

These side effects can make it difficult to eat, talk, chew, or swallow. Fortunately, with good care, you and your doctor can reduce the risk of these side effects and manage them if they do occur. At Dr. Rojas practice we create an individualized treatment plan that can help with your oral care before, during and after undergoing cancer treatments.