We’ve talked previously about the link between breast cancer and oral health. Today, we want to talk about the effects of breast and other cancer treatments on dental health and how to take preventative measures.
Breast cancer and dental health.
Did you know that cancer treatments can affect oral tissues, during and after breast cancer treatment? Breast cancer survivors and especially chemotherapy patients should know that they are at a greater risk of dental health problems than others. Chemotherapy often reduces the amount of saliva in the mouth, which causes oral health issues.
Chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells, which is a hallmark of cancer cell development. Some normal cells, such as those of your gums, divide rapidly too. Because of this, chemo cannot tell the difference between normal cells and cancer cells and will sometimes injure both. Chemo can also lower your white blood cell and platelet counts meaning if there are pre-existing dental problems or injuries like cavities, abscesses or gum disease, they may become worse.
Preventative care before and after breast cancer treatment
Everyone who is about to start chemotherapy should consult their local dentist before undergoing treatment to come up with the best treatment plan to maintain your oral health during and after this difficult time. Below is a list of things to do before and after starting treatment.
- Brush and floss regularly. Remember, your teeth and gums will be sensitive once you start treatment so use an extra soft brush head.
- If you haven’t already, cease any use of tobacco. They are harsh on your body and mouth.
- Be sure to eat well and rinse your mouth after eating. Don’t use rinses that have alcohol in them. Rinsing, along with regular brushing and flossing, reduces the risk of dental decay and infection.
- Brushing, rinsing and flossing is also helpful during treatment after vomiting to keep the acids from damaging your teeth. Think about removing foods from your diet with a lot of acid in them like citrus fruits or tomato sauce.
Proper care for your mouth and body during breast cancer treatment is essential as is scheduling regular appointments with your local dentist. If you want to learn more about the link between breast cancer and tooth decay then give us a call to schedule an appointment today!
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