It’s widely known that October is breast cancer awareness month. Over the past few years, our country has done an incredible job increasing awareness about the disease and coming together to support the millions of women who have undergone treatment. Virtually everyone knows someone who has had to take on the trying and brutal battle against cancer. That person may have been your mother, father, sister, wife, or even yourself.

While most people know the effects that chemotherapy and radiation can have on a person’s hair, eyebrows, and physical appearance, what most people don’t realize is the effect it can have on teeth and gums as well. As soon as radiation or chemotherapy treatments start, oral health is immediately affected.

·      The mouth becomes drier, causing the teeth to become more susceptible to decay.

·      Gum recession and mouth sores start occurring.

·      Patients may have difficulty eating, drinking and swallowing.

These are the most common side effects of chemotherapy on your mouth.

How to prevent and treat dental damage during chemotherapy

Patients battling cancer often times find themselves dealing with other health issues that are side effects of their treatment.  Here are a few ways to keep chemotherapy from affecting your teeth during treatment:

1.     Visit your dentist BEFORE you start chemotherapy. This is the best way to avoid any serious issues. If you go to the dentist before chemotherapy begins, you can help prevent serious mouth problems. Side effects often happen because a person’s mouth is not healthy before chemotherapy starts. Not all mouth problems can be avoided but the fewer side effects you have, the more likely you will stay on your cancer treatment schedule.

2.     Learn how to properly care for your teeth during chemo. If you’ve started chemotherapy before going to the dentist, it’s important to see one as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to check and clean your teeth and show you how to take care of your mouth and prevent any side effects.

3.     Be honest with your doctor and dentist during treatment. Some onchologist may discourage dental hygiene appointments because he side effects of a dental cleaning can increase the bacteria levels in the bloodstream. However, there are ways to take care of your teeth without negatively impacting your health. The best thing to do is to be open and honest with your doctor and dentist. It might be that you need to check your platelet counts before going to the dentist. Your dentist also needs to be informed of any major changes to your health before your check up.

At Downtown Dental, we care about the health of our patients from head to toe. We want to do everything we can to ensure our patients are living healthy, vibrant lives. Our support goes out to all those who have fought or been effected by cancer and our hope is that we can help you in any way possible.