Chemotherapy can be a lifesaver. It can also cause serious, unintended consequences, like a suppressed immune system, severe nausea, and weight loss. These effects are well-known, but what many cancer patients don’t realize is that chemo can also adversely affect oral health. If you’re expecting to undergo chemo, you’ve already receiving it, or you’re anticipating radiation therapy to the head region, talk to a dentist as soon as possible.
Visiting Your Dentist
During your dental consultation, provide as much information as you can about your medical condition and the drugs you’ll be taking. The dentist will examine your X-rays, and the hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth. A professional cleaning is important because it curbs problems like gum disease. When your immune system is suppressed during chemotherapy , you’ll be more susceptible to illnesses, and bacteria from infections in your mouth can enter your bloodstream and make you sick. If you have any other oral health problems, you’ll receive appropriate treatment for them. Your dentist will also help you learn how to care for your mouth during chemo.
Watching Out for Side Effects
Chemo doesn’t affect every patient the same way. You may not experience all of the following side effects, and it’s possible that you won’t experience any of them. But you should be familiar with the side effects, just in case.
- Dry mouth
- Changes in taste
- Painful mouth and gums
- Swelling or peeling of the tongue
- Burning sensations of the tongue
Caring for Your Mouth
Inspect your mouth every day. Become familiar with how it should look, and notice whether there are any unusual changes. If your mouth becomes sensitive, use an extra soft toothbrush and waxed floss, and brush very gently. Choose mouthwash without alcohol. Fight dry mouth by sipping water frequently and chewing sugarless gum. When your mouth hurts, choose soft foods that don’t require a lot of work to chew and swallow.
At University Associates in Dentistry, the well-being and safety of our patients are our top priorities. We provide compassionate, personalized care to meet the sensitive needs of patients with other serious health issues. Call us at (312) 704-5511 to request a prompt appointment with a general dentist in Chicago.