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Maintaining Good Oral Health During Cancer Therapy

By Dr. Juan Teodoro –

Maintaining Good Oral Health  During Cancer TherapyRegular periodontal care and routine dental cleanings are important for all of us. However, it is even more so for a cancer patient that is undergoing chemotherapy, radiation or bone marrow transplantation. These cancer therapies typically cause oral complications that compromise the patient’s teeth and the gum health. A visit to the Periodontist is of utmost importance to prevent or lessen oral complications and help maintain healthy teeth and gums during this difficult time.

Radiation and chemotherapy kill cancer cells, but they also damage normal cells. Cancer therapy decreases salivary secretions causing excessive mouth dryness and thus susceptibility to tooth decay and infections. Sometimes, vomiting is a side effect of therapy. This erodes away the outer surface of teeth. Oral complications vary for every individual and the treatment regimen, but the most common complications include:

COMMON COMPLICATIONS
. Dry Mouth
. Erosion of Tooth Enamel & Rapid Tooth Decay
. Inflamed – Bleeding Gums
. Painful Oral Ulcers
. Loss of Taste – Burning Sensation
. Stiff Jaw & Changes on the Jaw Bone
. Difficulty Chewing & Swallowing
. Delay Healing / Prone to Infections

Being diagnosed with cancer is a serious and worrisome matter. Dealing with cancer therapy can be challenging and have a significant impact on overall health and lifestyle. However, it is important to maintain periodontal health throughout therapy and thereafter to maintain proper nutrition and be able to enjoy foods.

PRE-CANCER TREATMENT
PERIODONTAL EVALUATION
Prior to beginning cancer therapy, the Periodontist would perform an exam to identify and correct potential problems in the mouth. This would prevent oral problems from intensifying or interfering with cancer therapy. During this initial visit, the periodontist will recommend a daily oral hygiene routine, discuss what type of toothpaste and mouthwash to use and types of foods to avoid.

PERIODONTAL RECOMMENDATIONS
FOR THE CANCER PATIENT
. Brush teeth, gums, and tongue gently with an extrasoft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste after every meal and before bedtime. You may soften the bristles by rinsing the toothbrush in warm water.
. Floss teeth gently every day and use the prescribed fluoride gel or paste.
. Avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol.
. Avoid candy, gum, and soda unless they are sugar-free.
. Avoid spicy or acidic foods, tobacco products, and alcohol.
. Keep the appointment schedule recommended by your periodontist.

Your periodontist is another important team member involved in your cancer treatment and post-treatment. To learn more, call Dr. Juan Teodoro at Bonita Periodontics & Implants at 239-333-4343, or visit our website at www.bonitaimplants.com. Patients are not healthy without good oral health. The oral cavity is the gateway to the body!

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