Cancer Treatment and Teeth

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It is very important that a patient about to undergo treatment for cancer does so with as little damage to the teeth and gums as possible. Various cancer treatments can cause dry mouth, fungal infections, burning or swelling of the tongue, as well as tooth decay.

There are a few things patients need to know before cancer treatments begin. First of all, you should be seen by a dentist ideally several weeks before any treatment starts. We recommend extracting any teeth that potentially may cause a problem later. We also need to make sure that all the teeth that need treatment are fixed before radiation & or chemo starts.

It is important that a patient sticks to as little sugar in their diet as possible so as to reduce the potential for cavities. Before treatment begins we bring down the number of bacteria in the mouth by prescribing antibacterial mouthwashes.

We can prescribe a specific type of toothpaste that is very high in fluoride which in turn will help guard against cavities.

Cancer patients, particularly for head and neck cancer, are very prone to developing cavities. Salivary glands sometimes get damaged during treatment leaving teeth very dry and vulnerable. That, coupled with a high-calorie diet recommended during treatment, can cause rampant decay of teeth.

We can make special trays that carry concentrated fluoride and help strengthen enamel. Sometimes a patient can develop a massive infection in the mouth during or after chemo and radiation. It can interfere with eating, drinking and swallowing. We can design a mouthwash with the correct combination of medications to ease the suffering and restore a patient’s ability to eat, drink and swallow comfortably.