The common side effects of cancer which include, nausea and hair loss are widely known. In contrast, many people are unaware that more than one- third of people under cancer treatments develop intense complications that affect the mouth. These problems interfere with the treatment and reduce the patient’s quality of life. Radiations on the head and the neck, chemotherapy, and blood and marrow transplants cause oral complications like the dry mouth condition.
Before cancer treatment commences, a thorough dental examination must be considered so as to reduce and the undesirable side effects. If you have cancer it is important to have regular and thorough oral hygiene, which includes brushing the teeth at least twice day and flossing at least once a day. When one goes through chemotherapy, the mouth becomes drier from low saliva flow and there is a high chance of developing gum disease and tooth decay. Chemotherapy and radiation can affect the salivary glands. Xerostomia, or dry mouth, is an unpleasant sensation caused by a reduced production of saliva. This condition increases the risk of developing cavities, sensitive lesions in the oral cavity, hypersensitive teeth, rapid tooth decay, and difficulty in swallowing and also the burning feeling in the mouth. A cancer patient suffering from dry mouth should brush and clean the mouth at least four times a day. In case of bleeding gums or some sores, floss gently around them. A toothpaste containing fluoride should be used in order to protect the teeth even more from decaying. Mouthwashes containing alcohol should not be used. Instead, the mouth should be rinsed with a solution of salt and baking soda in warm water several times a day and this should be followed with a rise with water alone.
The bones of the jaws support the teeth. So, when your bones are strong and healthy, the teeth have a stronger foundation to hold them when you are chewing food. Doctors recommend sufficient intake of vitamin D and calcium to keep the bones healthy. Smoking and intake of alcohol should be avoided. Also, acidic foods can irritate your mouth so they should be avoided.
Cancer patients should visit the dentist before chemotherapy begins in order to help in the prevention of the serious mouth problems discussed in this article.