Cancer Diagnosis? Here’s How to Protect Your Dental Health
You may be surprised to find your dentist on your cancer therapy team. To prevent serious mouth problems, see your dentist at least one month prior to starting cancer therapy.
Your dentist will check and clean your teeth, care for any existing problems, and show you how to take care of your teeth to prevent therapy-related issues. If you have already begun cancer therapy and didn’t see a dentist, see one as soon as possible.
Cancer therapy drugs kill cancer cells, but can harm normal cells including those in your mouth.
Side effects can include problems with your teeth and gums, the soft lining of your mouth, and the glands that make saliva. Dry mouth is a common side effect in cancer treatment.
Minimize dry mouth with these tips:
• Use prescription fluoride toothpaste. Ask your dentist which one is right for you.
• Avoid toothpastes with lauryl sulphate.
• Carry a bottle of water so you can drink when your mouth feels dry.
• Use an alcohol-free mouthwash.
• Increase your dental visits to three or four appointments per year.
Throughout the course of your therapy, you may experience oral symptoms. Some dietary changes can lessen oral symptoms.
Try these tips:
• Choose foods that are easy to chew and swallow.
• Drink liquids to help with swallowing.
• Mix foods with liquids to make them easier to swallow.
• Eat fruits that are high in water, such as melons.
• Avoid carbonated beverages; sugar-containing beverages, and alcohol.
• Eat smaller, more frequent meals.
• If mouth sores develop, avoid acidic, spicy, rough, or salty foods.
Cancer treatment is no easy battle. Luckily, your group dental plan may include Delta Dental of Wisconsin’s Evidence-Based Integrated Care Plan, which provides benefits for additional cleanings during the course of cancer therapy. With some extra dental care, you can make your treatment more comfortable.
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