Dental implications of treatments for cancer.

The treatment of cancer is not always pleasant, and can affect your teeth, mouth and gums.  These side effects include a number of unwanted problems.

  •  Inflammation of the cheeks and gums
  • Infections of the gums and general soreness
  • Decay in the teeth
  • Dry mouth syndrome (Sjogren’s syndrome). 

During a course of treatment for cancer, one needs to be very careful to maintain a clean mouth and to avoid unnecessary infections.  As a precaution you should talk to your oncologist about your dental situation, and then visit your dentist as soon as possible.

  • Have a good dental check-up and a clean before you begin your cancer treatment.  If your treatment is prolonged, you may need to see your dentist during your cancer treatment.
  • Extractions should be done prior to beginning any cancer treatment.
  • Dentures should be adjusted and made to fit well.
  • Always advise your doctor or dentist if your gums start to swell or get sore during your treatment.

Maintain good thorough daily oral hygiene:

  • Brush regularly, twice a day, using a soft manual toothbrush, or an electric brush if you have one.
  • Floss your teeth regularly.
  • Drink water often to help avoid the ‘dry mouth’ feeling.
  • Avoid using alcohol, including mouthwashes that contain alcohol

If any of your teeth become loose or sore during cancer treatment, or if your gums swell up or become sore or if your jaw starts to feel numb, you should advise your oncologist and your dentist immediately.