A lot is involved with preparing to undergo cancer treatment. There are appointments that need to be scheduled, time requested off of work, tasks that need to be done around the house, and arrangements that need to be made to make sure your day-to-day life stays the same. The last thing you are probably thinking about is visiting the dentist, but you may want to before you start treatment.
Why Visiting a Dentist or Oral Surgeon is Important Before Undergoing Treatment for Cancer
It is well-known that chemotherapy causes numerous physical side effects, such as extreme nausea and fatigue. So many people focus on these side effects that the impact chemotherapy has on your oral health is often overlooked.
Chemotherapy can cause your mouth to become a very toxic environment. That toxic environment can result in a number of dental problems ranging from increased gum infections and abscessed teeth to changes in taste, damage to the tongue, and extensive tooth decay. While many of these problems seem easy enough to treat, things become complicated when you are undergoing chemotherapy.
Many dentists and oral surgeons are unable to perform basic dental procedures, such as filling a cavity or extracting a tooth, if you are in the middle of undergoing a round of chemotherapy. This means that should you encounter any of these problems while you are undergoing treatment, you may have to wait to have them fixed. That can result in prolonged discomfort and even put you at risk of other, more serious health problems.
Not all the problems you experience with your oral health while undergoing chemotherapy can be prevented, but most of them can. It is recommended that you schedule an appointment with your dentist or an oral surgeon to get a routine checkup before treatment.
Tooth Extractions are the Most Commonly Recommended Dental Treatment Before Chemotherapy
Dentists and oral surgeons may recommend a number of different treatments ranging from implants to fillings. However, the most common dental treatment that is recommended is tooth extractions.
There are two reasons why your dentist or oral surgeon will recommend having teeth extracted before chemotherapy. The first reason is that the teeth may already be compromised and in need of being removed. The other reason is that it will reduce the likelihood of an infection developing and prevent cavities from forming.
Removing teeth before chemotherapy reduces the risk that tooth decay will spread in the mouth and cause cavities to develop. Treating cavities is extremely difficult in cancer patients, so many dentists and oral surgeons recommend extracting the teeth which eliminates the problem.
A cancer patient’s chances of getting cavities increases when they are undergoing chemotherapy. The chance of getting a cavity increases because dry mouth, which is a common side effect of chemotherapy, creates an ideal environment for cavity-causing bacteria to grow.
Other Ways to Improve Your Oral Health While Undergoing Chemotherapy
Undergoing tooth extraction before starting chemotherapy is just one of the ways you can protect your oral health while you are undergoing chemotherapy. Some of the other things you can do to protect your oral health while undergoing cancer treatment includes:
- Brushing at least three times a day and flossing daily. Make sure to use a separate toothbrush for the time that you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment.
- Avoid drinking extremely acidic or sugary beverages. Try to dry water instead as this will help keep bacteria out of the mouth.
- Use any mouthwash your dentist or oral surgeon provided to help avoid dry mouth
- Eat a well-balanced diet that is low in sugar
- Avoid picking at any sores that develop in your mouth
About to start chemotherapy and want to make sure you have taken the proper preventative measures to protect your oral health? Call Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery & Dental Implant today to schedule an appointment. Our oral surgeon will help you determine if any teeth should be removed before chemotherapy. Feel free to call our office and schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you in our office.