Cancer Patients Need to Maintain Dental Health Prior to Therapy
Posted: July 3, 2009
After the recent deaths of many celebrities including Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, people are realizing that maintaining their health is more important than ever. People who have just learned that they have cancer may not be thinking about taking care of their oral hygiene, but this can have significant consequences. Cancer patients who do not discuss their sitaution with a dentist before starting chemotherapy or radiation may put the health of their teeth in jeopardy or delay their treatment.
Dr. Mitchell Josephs, a dentist at Palm Beach Towers, tells people about to start chemotherapy that they should get a dental cleaning and X-ray to make sure that there are no abscesses. If there is an emergency extraction to remove an infected tooth, this could disrupt cancer treatment. Obviously, if you have to have emergency dental work done after you started cancer treatment, your healing ability is going to be reduced.
Therapies can also weaken teeth and cause tooth decay. Chemotherapy and radiation can reduce the mouth's ability to produce saliva temporarily. Saliva is what protects and coats the teeth so they are not damaged by acidic foods. If a person uses a custom fluoride tray to coat the teeth in a concentrated fluoride solution daily(ten minutes a day) while going through chemotherapy, their teeth are much less likely to be discolored and weakened.
Decay is usually caused by a very dry mouth. Inflammation of the gums can also be caused by cancer treatment. Dentures that do not fit correctly can make the situation worse by possibly causing ulcerations. This problem can be fixed by getting new dentures or dental implants for replacing the teeth permanently.
Mouth rinses can help reduce mucositis, which is the ulceration and inflammation of the mouth's tissue. According to Dr. Daniel Spitz, when a patient goes through chemotherapy, any underlying dental problems will increase the likelihood of there being cavities, bone loss, and tooth loss. If the blood count gets low, bacterial infections can grow out of control.
Source: Palm Beach Daily News