Impact of Cancer Treatment on the Oral and Dental Health of Cancer-Afflicted Persons

February 15, 2022 Off By Warner Quinten

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reported how over ⅓ of cancer patients usually develop various oral complications during and after treatments. The complications range from mild side effects such as mouth sores, dry mouth, sensitive gums, to severe ones like jaw pain and infection.

How Cancer Treatments Affect Oral Health

Treatments for cancer like chemotherapy, weakens the patient’s immune system during the treatment stage. This makes him more vulnerable to infection, especially when his oral health is not healthy from the very start of the treatment.

If the infection is severe and serious, the individual’s cancer treatment might get delayed. Dental implants are still an option for rehabilitation of head and cancer patients however, it might be affected by radiotherapy. Especially when the dental implants are placed after radiation, in grafted bone, or in the maxilla.

Furthermore, radiation therapy can also damage the salivary glands which leads to an extreme dry mouth and sticky saliva.

Dental Implants of Cancer Afflicted Persons and Effects of Radiation Treatments

Most cancer-afflicted patients worry about the potential effects of radiation treatments on their dental implant. The matter has actually underwent several cancer studies that established the success of minimal dose of 50Gy in radiation treatment. Considering that dental implant cost is substantial, studies recommend that for a high rate of success of osseointegration, there must be an interval of 6 to 15 months before a dental implantation is subjected to irradiation.

Action Plan to Lessen Side Effects of  Cancer Treatments

One way to lessen the side effects of cancer treatment is to maintain oral health at its best as this will allow the patient to focus on healing without being sidetracked by additional pain.

Below are some suggestions on what a cancer patient should do at every stage of a cancer treatment:

Prior to commencing with the treatment, visit your dentist,  who will evaluate if you will need any oral and dental health improvement before starting your cancer treatment. Doing so can lessen the probable dental side effects that come with radiation and chemotherapy. A few of the treatment options include filling existing cavities, prevent cavities, removing infected teeth, restoring crowns or bridge work that would allow you to chew food, and gum disease treatment.

Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day will as such actions remove plaque lodged in between the teeth. Yet do so gently and avoid where gums are bleeding or sore.

Rinsing also helps as it lessens the chance of infection and dental decay.

Moreover, some lifestyle changes could definitely help, such as changing your diet into something healthy, and stop using tobacco products to help the body heal faster.

During the treatment, it is important to consult with your cancer care team first, before going to the dentist. This is important particularly for patients that have a port placed under their skin for feeding or medication purposes. Patients with a port usually have to take medications that would prevent blood from clotting; but it also increases bleeding and chances of getting infection during reatments. .

After the treatment, continue taking care of your mouth as you are probably still experiencing varying dental issues.