The last thing you want to have to think about during cancer treatment is a dental emergency—seeing your dentist before you start is the best way to begin. If possible, see your dentist for a thorough cleaning 2 weeks before starting your cancer treatment. If you have teeth that may become infected during the course of your cancer treatment, your oncologist may want you to have those taken care of before you start your cancer treatment.
Many cancer treatments target rapidly dividing cells because that’s a characteristic of cancer. Unfortunately, it’s also a characteristic of cells in your mouth. You may want to give your dentist your oncologist’s contact information and give your oncologist your dentist’s contact information so that they can work together on any oral symptoms you have.
Parts of your mouth that can be affected by cancer treatments include your teeth, your gums, and your salivary glands. Some possible symptoms are:
- -painful gums or mouth
- -dry mouth
- -tooth decay
- -cold sores
- -stiffness of jaw
- -impaired ability to eat, swallow, speak
- -acid from vomiting
During your cancer treatment, you should continue to brush and floss--do so gently.
A mouth rinse to reduce your chance of tooth decay and other symptoms may be indicated. Some of these are prescription and some may be purchased over-the-counter.
One rinse that is good for comfort from dry mouth and helps to balance the pH of the mouth after acid reflux or vomiting is to dissolve ¼ tsp baking soda and 1/8 tsp salt in 1 cup water.
*Note: The information in this article is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals. You should consult with your healthcare professionals before starting any new regimens.
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist who sees both adults and children
1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
Lorain, OH 44053