Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chemotherapy and Oral Care

You may be surprised that your dentist plays an important role in your cancer treatment. If you consult with your dentist before chemotherapy begins, you can help prevent serious mouth problems.
Chemotherapy is the use of specific drugs to treat cancer. These drugs kill cancer cells, but they may also harm normal cells, including cells in the mouth. Side effects include problems with your teeth and gums; the soft, moist lining of your mouth; and the glands that make saliva.
These drugs will basically diminish the immune response and therefor the patient becomes more susceptible to inflammation and/or infections. It is important to recognize and treat any oral pathology that may lead to an infection before the chemotherapy starts.
Also a loss in saliva will make the patient more vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is a natural guard against plaque build up and bacteria. In it's absence oral bacteria tend to flourish which is why immaculate oral hygiene is essential during chemotherapy. A dentist can recommend ways to keep the oral environment moist. 
If the oral side effects are severe, the patient may not be able to keep up with their cancer treatment which is why it is important to consult with a dentist before any chemotherapy.