Receiving a cancer diagnosis is hard enough. Once you add in chemotherapy and the effects it can have on your physical, mental, and emotional health, you may feel as if you’re completely drained. While you may be focused on the toll it can take on your body, you might not realize it also increases your risk for many of the most common oral health problems. To help you remain better equipped to preserve your teeth and gums during this time, here are three tips to keep in mind as you fight this courageous battle.
See Your Dentist
Before you begin treatment with chemotherapy, it is recommended that you visit your dentist. This will not only inform them of your current diagnosis, but it will also allow for a complete examination to catch any potential problems before the effects of your cancer treatment impact your oral cavity (i.e., tenderness and increased risk of infection).
It is during this visit you should also make sure your dentist is fully aware of the proposed treatment plan, so they can work with you to monitor and ensure your teeth and gums remain free of decay and disease.
Change Your Toothbrush
You may find that using a normal soft-bristled toothbrush is uncomfortable, so to ensure the health of your teeth and gums, ask your dentist about alternative options available on the market. Some brushes are considered “supersoft” or “gentle,” allowing for a milder, yet effective, approach. After three or four months, make sure to swap out your current brush for a new one.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re using fluoride toothpaste, as this will better protect your tooth enamel from decay while also strengthening it against potential damage.
Ask Your Oncologist About Oral Rinses
Mouth sores and inflammation are a common side effect of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Over the counter, alcohol-based mouthwashes burn these sores and do not heal them. Your oncologist may provide you with a mouth rinse or your dentist can prescribe a custom rinse for you. Dentists work with pharmacists to create a mixture we call “magic mouthwash.” It contains viscous lidocaine for numbing, Benadryl for reducing inflammation and Maalox to coat the oral cavity. This dental rinse has been used for years to comfort patients who have mouth sores.
About the McCarl Dental Group at Shipley’s Choice
The team at McCarl Dental Group at Shipley’s Choice wants to be your ally in the fight against tooth decay, gum disease, and other more serious health issues. If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer and are preparing to undergo chemotherapy, call our dental office today and let us help you establish a game plan for taking better care of your smile.