Oral Outcomes with Chemotherapy: What to Expect
While chemotherapy aims to fight cancer, the treatment can cause some unwanted though expected side effects to manifest in your body. The mouth and its structures can be affected and that can be problematic. Best to consult your dentist first to be able to understand what to expect or to be able to minimize the symptoms, discomfort or xxxx.
Chemo drugs kill cancer cells but they may also harm normal cells, including those in the mouth. Side effects include problems with your teeth and gums, the mucosal lining and your salivary glands. The effects can be painful and can make it hard for you to talk, swallow or eat.
Apart from painful mouth and gums, there may also be burning, peeling, or swelling tongue, and also dryness of mouth, and change in taste. Mouth infection, like gum disease, is very likely because your immune system is down. The effects might be so intolerable, you may not be able to keep up with your cancer treatment. Your doctor may need to cut back on your cancer treatment or may even stop it.
Professional advice from your dentist may help you cope with cancer treatment, so see one first before your chemotherapy starts. Your dentist will instruct you to always keep your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water, sucking on ice chips, using sugarless gum or sugar-free hard candy. Your oral hygiene should not be neglected. Brush teeth, gums and tongue with very soft bristled brush using fluoride toothpaste.
Floss where gums do not bleed. Use mouth rinses without alcohol content. Or better use a solution of ¼ teaspoon of salt or 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 1 cup (8 ounces) of warm water. Follow with a plain water rinse.
Be careful what you eat and drink. Choose foods that are soft and moist, easy to chew and swallow. Take only small bites of food, chew slowly, and sip liquids with meals. Avoid sharp, crunchy, hot and spicy foods; likewise, acidic and sugary food and drinks; needless to say, tobacco products and alcoholic drinks. All these precautions are helpful and will see you through from the beginning of your cancer treatment until sometime after your therapy. Consult regularly with both your doctor and dentist for better and successful outcomes.
Working Together with Your West Seattle Dentist
Let your First Impressions team in West Seattle help you along with your chemotherapy. For better outcomes, it pays better to heed dental advice while you’re on cancer treatment.