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Does Cancer Treatment Impact Oral Health?

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Cancer treatment can have an affect on every aspect of your overall health, including your teeth. Some problems are more serious than others and all complications should be evaluated by your oncologist and dentist. If you are starting treatment, here are some things to remember about your oral health. 

What Complications Can Occur?

Oral health complications related to your cancer treatment can be insignificant to severe. There is a possibility that you might not experience any problems, but if you do, your oncologist needs to be aware of those issues immediately. Complications that could occur include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Changes to taste
  • Infection
  • Oral mucositis
  • Jaw pain
  • Radiation-related cavities
  • Bone disease

Complications are more likely when you have radiation treatment to the head and neck area. Many of the oral health problems only occur during treatment. However, some could have a lasting impact. 

How Are Complications Treated?

The treatment plan for the complications depends largely on which symptoms you experience. In most instances, your doctor will focus on natural treatments. For instance, if you suffer from dry mouth, increasing your water intake and chewing gum that is sweetened with xylitol can help relieve the symptoms. 

However, some complications require medical intervention. For instance, an infection needs to be treated with antibiotics. Your doctor might also ask you to rinse your mouth more often so that harmful bacteria is washed out. 

What Can You Do?

Finding relief from oral complications might require combining treatment options. For instance, drinking more water and the use of artificial saliva might be necessary to get rid of dry mouth. You should also consider avoiding alcohol that can worsen dry mouth.

You might also need to take steps to focus on good bone health. While undergoing treatment, it is important that you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D. If you are suffering from appetite loss due to your treatment, getting your nutritional balance right might be difficult. 

Your oncologist can recommend supplements that you can take. Never take them without first consulting with your doctor. The supplements could possibly have an adverse reaction with your cancer treatment. 

One of the most important things to remember when you are undergoing cancer treatment that your oncologist and dentist need to work as a team. Ensure that your oncologist has access to your dental records so that he or she can help develop a treatment plan to keep your teeth and gums healthy.