Let Gulfside Dental be a Part of Your Cancer Care Team

Let Gulfside Dental in Naples, FL be a Part of your Cancer Care Team
Oral health is very important in our society. When we walk around in our everyday life we come across countless social situations. Because we want our teeth to shine in these encounters most people take great care of their teeth and make sure to visit their dental specialist regularly. But most don’t realize the toll that sickness can take on our teeth and, conversely, the toll that poor dental hygiene can have on our general health and ability to be treated. With treatment such as chemotherapy and radiation, cancer is one such illness that can have a largely negative impact on oral health. In fact, one third of the people being treated for cancer develop complications affecting their mouth during treatment. Because these complications can lead to a delay in treatment, Gulfside Dental’s friendly staff wants to help you through the best ways to manage oral health before, during, and after treatment.

Pre-Treatment Care

The best way to keep your teeth and mouth from interfering with your cancer treatment is to plan ahead and take good care of your teeth prior to treatment. Practicing good oral hygiene and taking care of any dental issues before beginning treatment can keep these problem areas from worsening and causing complications with your road to recovery. By having your cavities filled, infected teeth removed, fixing broken or cracked teeth, and treating gum disease, you can help minimize possible infection during treatment.
These oral health guidelines are great for keeping your mouth healthy on a day to day basis and are crucial in preparing for cancer treatment. Brushing twice a day and flossing daily removes plaque from your teeth preventing oral disease. Avoiding tobacco products and acidic food can help prevent the breakdown of the enamel of your teeth. Eating healthy foods will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to keep your immune system functioning well. Rinsing regularly with alcohol free fluoride mouthwash is another great way to keep your mouth clean and fresh.

Dental Care During Treatment

During treatment it is important to consult your oncologist before dental checkups. If your dental team is unaware of certain medications you are taking, such as blood thinners, it could lead to complications during your dental procedures. Mouth sores, dry mouth, sensitive gums, jaw pain, and infection are all complications that could occur during cancer treatment.

  • Mouth sores are ulcers that can form around the soft areas of your mouth, such as your gums, lips, and tongue, and are often caused by radiation and/or chemotherapy. When dealing with mouth sores it’s best to stay away from crunchy and spicy foods as these can open or irritate your sores. It’s also good to stay away from alcohol or alcohol based products as these can burn your sores. If you find that brushing your teeth while you have sores is too painful then try soaking your toothbrush in warm water for a few minutes to soften the bristles.
  • Dry mouth is a condition that occurs from a lack of saliva in the mouth and can lead to sore throat, hoarseness, and difficulty speaking and swallowing. This can occur if salivary glands in your mouth are damaged during radiation therapy and can increase tooth decay and chances of infection. Without your saliva to wash food from your teeth it’s even more important to drink plenty of water, floss, and use rinses to keep your teeth clean. Our specialists at Gulfside Dental may also recommend an artificial saliva to help your mouth feel more comfortable.
  • Sensitive gums are a common sign of minor swelling caused by cancer treatments but can also be a sign of a more serious gum disease. If you experience this symptom it’s important to contact your dental specialist right away. And don’t forget to soak your soft bristle toothbrush in warm water to make brushing a little easier.
  • Jaw and facial pain is a common symptom of patients undergoing radiation near the head and neck. It can be caused by inflammation around jaw muscles, caused by radiation, or tooth grinding, caused by stress. If you experience jaw pain caused by either of these then please contact our staff for help and treatment options.
  • Infections in the mouth can occur in multiple ways but it is always important to contact your cancer team if the possibility of infection is present. With your lowered immunity from chemotherapy it is more common for infections to occur. If you experience swelling, bleeding, sores, or see a sticky, white film in your mouth then contact your oncologist immediately. Infections in your mouth can spread to the rest of your body which can delay treatment. This is why it’s important to visit your dental team as soon after your diagnosis as possible.

Post-treatment Care

It’s important to maintain your good hygiene practices after treatment. Continuing to brush, floss, and rinse your mouth will help to keep your teeth as healthy as possible and your smile bright. Continuing to look for warning signs of oral disease will help to keep you healthy and smiling brightly for a long time to come.
Some patients have such a change or decrease in salivary function that they get cavities very quickly and easily. In some situations, life long intervention is needed in the form of topical applications of silver diamine and/or fluoride trays patients wear at night.
Oral diseases and the poor quality of your teeth can further diminish your quality of life in an already trying time. Our dental staff wants to help you stay healthy and happy so make Gulfside Dental a part of your cancer care team.

Naples, Florida Dental Experts

If you are located in Naples Florida and want to improve your dental experience, contact Gulfside Dental at (239) 774-3017. We can assess your situation and create a plan to get you smiling again quickly!

to Request An appointment, call (904) 747-1250