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Oral Care During Cancer Treatment

Apr 28, 2016

By Dean George

“Sometimes you have to go through things and not around them.” – Fresh Quotes

There are dozens of inspiring and motivational quotes intended to encourage and comfort victims of cancer. April is National Cancer Awareness Month and unfortunately oral health doesn’t take a pause while a cancer patient undergoes treatment.


Cancer treatment is hard on teeth, gums, salivary glands and other oral tissues. During cancer treatment gums can become swollen and bleed. Chemotherapy can cause mouth sores and cavities, and gingivitis or abscesses can become worse during treatment.

Below are five ways to minimize harmful oral side effects during cancer treatment:

STAY TRUE to your regular oral health routine. Brush your teeth morning and night and floss regularly. Avoid those areas that are sore or bleeding but continue brushing and flossing your other teeth.

TAG TEAM with your dentist and hygienist on your regularly scheduled appointments and share any problems you are having regarding the daily care of your teeth. Make sure your dentist and doctor are on the same page regarding what you are experiencing with your mouth while undergoing cancer treatment.

MEDICATION can be a big help for pain but some aspirin and non-steroidal medications like Advil® and Motrin® can cause bleeding for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Check with your dentist and/or doctor about pain medications that would be best for your personal situation.

As previously reported in 5 Eroders of Tooth Enamel, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation are also susceptible to Xerostomia (abnormal dry mouth) caused by decreased saliva production. Chewing sugarless gum is often recommended for cancer patients suffering from Xerostomia.

EATING & DRINKING are important when fighting cancer but certain foods should be avoided. Tomato and citrus juices can aggravate mouth sores. Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages can aggravate mouth dryness. Spicy foods and those foods that are difficult to chew should be avoided.

HYDRATION is important because it makes the heart work less hard, helps maintain body temperature and keeps muscles in good working order. Water helps remove toxins, lubricates joints and maintains skin tone. Specifically cells, tissues and body organs need water to function well.

Water is always the best way to stay hydrated, but other sources of hydration include fruits like watermelon, grapes, grapefruit and fruit juice. For those who like meat, hamburger and chicken breast are good sources of water, and so are soups, stews and broths.

As previously noted in How Eating Disorders Hurt Oral Health, stomach regurgitation and vomiting is often a by-product of cancer treatments. Stomach acid and vomiting expose teeth and enamel to corrosive effects and repeated vomiting can also affect gums and mouth tissue. Always brush and rinse after regurgitating and use a good mouthwash to help kill germs.

If you are undergoing cancer treatment, alert your dentist and hygienist so they can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Source: huffingtonpost.ca, familydoctor.org, WebMD.com
Photo source: speareducation.com


Copyright 2016, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC

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