The Bad Side of Chemotherapy
For a number of medically important reasons, it’s important that cancer patients not neglect their dental health.
Chemotherapy, which involves drug treatment to kill cancer cells, can promote a range of oral health problems. The medications used in chemotherapy can promote dry mouth, which can be part of the overall picture of tooth decay.
In addition, chemotherapy drugs can affect the blood’s ability to clot, and patients may experience bleeding gums or be more prone to oral ulcers. Most patients can continue to brush and floss their teeth safely. Your dentist or dental hygienist may suggest a soft toothbrush or soft floss to make tooth care more comfortable during chemotherapy.
It’s important to see your dentist before starting a course of chemotherapy so you can start off with your teeth and gums as healthy as possible before subjecting your body to the rigors of cancer treatment. Your dentist can identify any potential problems, such as the need for fillings or other dental care, before you begin a course of chemotherapy.
Your dentist or dental hygienist may also recommend special oral rinses or fluoride treatments to reduce the increased risk of tooth decay from chemotherapy. It is important to follow a consistent dental care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing to keep plaque at bay and maintain oral health.