You might not have considered seeking dental care when you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. However, there are reasons why you should have a thorough dental exam and get your oral health under control before you begin cancer treatment.
To Avoid Dangerous Complications
Depending on your overall health and how your cancer will be treated, you can suffer serious oral complications from treatment. Chemotherapy suppresses the formation and function of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. It can also cause bleeding and severe tooth pain.
Radiation can cause a loss of elasticity in masticatory muscles making it difficult to chew. It can also cause osteonecrosis of bones in the mouth or jaw, and creates a lifelong predisposition to tooth decay. Other oral side effects include toxicity to oral tissue, mucositis, infection, salivary gland impairment, and altered tooth or bone development. Your dentist can help you prepare for possible complications.
To Improve Quality of Life
You may experience taste alterations, dry mouth, or other side effects during cancer treatment that can be avoided or treated. Your dentist can educate you on how to prepare for and manage the oral side effects of cancer treatment. Additionally, she can check to make sure you don’t have a dental problem that will make you more uncomfortable during your cancer treatment. Oral infection, extraction, and periodontal disease are problems you shouldn’t have to deal with while undergoing cancer treatment.
To Prevent Delayed or Insufficient Cancer Treatment
You may need a procedure or require preventive care to keep oral conditions from interfering with your treatment. Your dentist can detect and address oral problems before you begin treatment.
The best time to see your dentist is one month before your treatment begins. But even if you’ve already begun chemotherapy, radiation, or other cancer therapy, your dentist can not only help you make the most of your treatment but can help you feel better, too.