4th July 2019

Dental Advice If You Are Undergoing Cancer Treatment

Here at Dental Solutions we are here to help and support our patients through this difficult time after a cancer diagnosis.

It is important to stay on top of your dental hygiene with regular dental check-ups if you’re a patient undergoing cancer treatment. By frequently visiting the dentist, you’re helping your mouth to stay as healthy as possible during treatment.

Our hygienists Sarah and Vicky recommend that you visit a dental hygienist and dentist before commencing treatment, as routine cleaning cannot be carried out whilst having chemotherapy. They can also offer advice and help support you from the start.

Some people suffer from side-effects of treatment- here are some examples and ways of managing them (please read our products suggested in the section below)

  • Dryness of the mouth (Xerostomia), which can affect chewing, swallowing and speech.
  • Abnormalities of the tongue/’burning mouth’ – we would recommend drinking lots of water, and avoiding hot and spicy foods.
  • Imbalance of the mouth and a weakened immune system can allow bacteria to multiply, causing infections and mouth ulcers.
  • A lack of saliva can increase the risk of decay due to lack of saliva.
  • Change of taste – Patients undergoing chemotherapy or frequently report a change of taste.

Products our clinicians advise;

Preparing for Treatment

Promoting a good, controlled diet is crucial during treatment – and it’s best to start as early as possible. It’s important to consume all the vital nutrients but be mindful to avoid the intake of sugar, be it processed or natural. Approximately two weeks before your treatment, you should reduce your oral bacterial load. Choose a mouthwash that contains the active ingredient chlorhexidine gluconate as this can help get rid of some of the bad bacteria in your mouth. To make it as effective as possible, check with your dentist which toothpaste is best to use alongside the mouthwash (see recommended products at the end of the blog also).

Chocolate milkshake with strawYour doctor may recommend drinking high calorie drinks because of your lack of appetite. However, you should also be aware of how damaging this could be to your teeth. It’s advised that you drink the whole drink in one sitting or use a straw. You should also alternate with drinking water. After any sugary drinks, rinse with water/mouthwash or chew sugar free gum to reduce the risk of decay.

Pineapple chunksFurthermore, patients who complain of a metallic taste in their mouth after chemotherapy may be recommended pineapple, fresh or tinned. Not only can it get rid of the taste, but it will also help to break down proteins as it contains the enzyme bromelain. It’s important to alternate with water, as it may also cause decay and erosion to the tooth surface.

Dental Treatment During Chemotherapy – What to Expect

Undergoing dental treatment during chemotherapy requires special care from your dentist. We will ask for a platelet/full blood count check prior to a number of different treatments, including something as routine as interdental cleaning due to the risk of haemorrhage of infection caused by bacteraemia. This will also assure the dentist that your immune system can cope with dental treatment during chemotherapy. After your treatment, we encourage you to regularly attend examinations as part of your ongoing care. You can send the dentist your treatment details prior to your appointment.

Products our Clinicians recommend

  1. Gengigel mouth rinse or gel, to help with mouth ulcers and any Cleaning teeth with tepe brushtenderness from the gums. Use any mouthwash at a separate time to brushing.
  2. Oralieve have a full range of products available online to help if you have a dry mouth.
  3. Glandosane artificial saliva
  4. Duraphat toothpaste to help reduce the risk of decay.
  5. Optimal oral hygiene, including using an Electric Toothbrush, and daily interdental cleaning with TePes, floss or Wisdom Clean Betweens (see our hygienist for a demonstration).

At Dental Solutions, we have experience in providing dental treatment during chemotherapy, and pride ourselves on offering such patients the special care and attention they need. If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, and we wish you all the best with your treatment.

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