Oral Health and Cancer Treatment
If you are diagnosed with oral cancer, go for a thorough dental checkup before and during your treatment (chemotherapy or radiotherapy). Your dentist will review your oral health can recommend measures to maintain your oral health.
Certain steps that can help to maintain oral health are
- Brush properly twice a day and floss daily. Rinse your mouth with a solution of baking soda and salt often in a day.
- Eat a well balanced diet. If your mouth is sore and painful, avoid spices and hard to eat foods like raw vegetables, dry crackers and nuts. Eat soft and moist foods.
- Avoid eating in between meals and avoid tobacco and alcohol.
- If your mouth feels dry eat or chew sugar-free gum or candy to keep it moist.
Head and Neck Radiation Treatment & Your Mouth
Most patients with oral cancer need surgery which needs to be followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Inform your dentist about your treatment and it is advisable to consult a dentist who's familiar with the problems these therapies may cause in the mouth. Radiation therapy can cause several problems in the head and neck area.
- You may have irritation in the mouth, dry mouth (xerostomia), difficulty in chewing and swallowing, and change in taste.
- The risk of cavities in teeth is increased. Hence it is important to take good care of your teeth, gums, mouth and throat, while you are on radiation treatment.
Consult your oncologist (cancer specialist) and dentist about the oral problems you may have during and after radiation treatment. Ask your dentist about the precautions you need to take during treatment to avoid or decrease the possible oral side effects.
Chemotherapy and your mouth
Most patients with oral cancer need surgery which needs to be followed by radiation and chemotherapy. Inform your dentist about your treatment and it is advisable to consult a dentist who's familiar with the problems these therapies may cause in the mouth.
Chemotherapy can cause several oral and dental problems. You may develop
- Inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes in the mouth. Painful lesions in the mouth and gums are common as well
- The risk of oral (thrush) and systemic infection is increased
Consult your oncologist (cancer specialist) and dentist about the oral problems you may have during and after chemotherapy. Ask your dentist about the precautions you need to take during treatment to avoid or decrease the possible oral side effects.
Oral complications of cancer treatment
Most patients who undergo cancer treatment are not aware of the possible side effects of treatment on teeth, gums, salivary glands and other oral tissues. At times they may delay or stop the treatment due to the painful side effects in their mouths. Your dentist can review your oral health and make you aware of the side effects of the treatment.
Cancer treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause several oral side effects
- Inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membrane of the mouth
- Pain and inflammation of mouth and gums;
- Increase in the risk of oral (thrush) and systemic infections;
- xerostomia or “dry mouth”
- Increase in risk of tooth decay;
- Pain, burning, peeling or swelling of tongue;
- Impaired ability to eat, speak or swallow due pain and infalmmation;
- Change of taste or decreased ability to taste;
- Loss of appetite
Tobacco causes 80 to 90 percent of oral cancers. Avoid chewing or smoking as it is one of the best prevention against oral cancer.
Source: Onlymyhealth editorial team Jan 31, 2013
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