Going through chemotherapy is emotionally and physically exhausting enough as it is, nevermind the lingering additional symptoms that you’re likely to experience due to the treatment. Many patients aren’t aware that when they undergo chemo, the health of their teeth and gums can be at risk due to side-effects caused by mucositis. Read on to learn more about how you can protect your mouth and preserve your smile while fighting cancer.
What is Mucositis?
Mucositis is a common condition that patients receiving cancer treatments or radiation therapy to the head and neck experience. It can affect the cells in your mouth and digestive tract, causing your oral tissues to become red, swollen, tender, and sore. These symptoms typically start to show between three and 10 days after you begin your treatment and make it uncomfortable to swallow or eat. Depending on how quickly your immune system is able to counteract the symptoms of mucositis, it may go away quickly or linger.
How Can Chemo Impact Your Oral Health?
Chemotherapy causes a variety of side-effects that directly impact your mouth, including a weakened immune system, nausea and vomiting, and mucositis. When your teeth are constantly being exposed to acid from vomit or your mouth isn’t able to effectively fight off harmful oral bacteria, it becomes even more important to maintain good oral hygiene in order to prevent issues such as gum and tooth infection and decay. Plus, maintaining your oral health may be able to keep your spirits up. Although this can be difficult during your treatment, it’s well worth the effort.
What Are Some Preventive Measures to Keep Your Teeth & Gums Healthy?
With regular dental care in Park Cities and daily oral hygiene, you’ll be able to preserve your smile and prevent the need for invasive dental care while going through your chemotherapy treatment. Some ways that you can accomplish this include:
- Visiting your dentist frequently for a checkup and cleaning. This will allow you to get any small oral health problems treated before they become more serious.
- Thoroughly brushing your teeth 30 minutes after you eat, at least twice every day.
- Floss between each of your teeth at least once every day.
- Rinse your mouth with antimicrobial wash once every day.
- Moisturize your lips at least four times each day. Make sure that you don’t apply lip moisturizer four hours before radiation therapy.
- Avoid bad oral habits such as smoking.
- Let your doctor and dentist know if you’re experiencing discomfort swallowing or noticing any out-of-the-ordinary oral symptoms.
As long as you remain vigilant about your oral health while undergoing chemotherapy, you will be able to stop dental problems in their tracks. That way, once you’re finished with your treatment, you can enjoy your healthy, natural smile.
About the Author
Dr. Frank Higginbottom has been practicing dentistry for decades and focuses on getting to know each of his patients. He regularly advances and continues his education in an effort to provide each of his patients with the highest quality of dental care. With a focus on clinical excellence, he is able to offer comprehensive and individualized treatments for each of his patients’ unique needs. For questions or to schedule an appointment, visit Dallas Esthetics’ website or call 214-827-1150.