How to take care of your oral health with cancer treatment?


Oral care during cancer treatment

As per the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than one-third of cancer patients get mouth complications. Complications include mouth sores, dry mouth, jaw pain, and sensitive gums. Mouth health is as important as your overall health, so making your dentist an essential part of your cancer care team is important. 


How does cancer have an impact on your mouth?

Both cancer and the treatment that it needs weaken the immune system. And in case your oral health is not healthy before treatment, you might become more prone to oral infections. When the condition becomes severe, it will delay cancer treatment. Furthermore, radiation therapy, especially in your head and neck, will cause damage to salivary glands that can result in thick and sticky saliva with a dry mouth. A dry mouth increases your chance of tooth decay and oral infection.

Many side effects of cancer treatment can cause eating, swallowing, and talking issues, while others make it very hard to fight off infections. You can decrease the risk of these oral side effects by consulting your dentist and the doctor treating your cancer.


So, what should you do?

You need to maintain your mouth at its best health before, during, and after cancer treatment, that will assist in lessening some of the side effects and allows you to focus on your overall healing.


How to take care of your teeth before cancer treatment?

You become more prone to mouth infections when oral health is not healthy before cancer treatment. Here are a few tips you should take into consideration before you undergo cancer treatment:

  • Visit your dentist: Your dentist will evaluate your oral health and make you know which options are best for you before you start your cancer treatment. Then, when you treat that area of concern, you can quickly decrease the possible side effects associated with radiation and chemotherapy. Some treatment options involve fluoride treatments for preventing cavities, gum disease treatment, and crown restoration from ensuring you can chew your food.
  • Brush regularly: Brush at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, and do not forget to brush your tongue.
  • Floss: You should floss at least once a day. This assists in removing the plaque present between your teeth. If you have sore gums or are bleeding, try to be gentle and avoid such areas. But you must floss in between the rest of your teeth.
  • Avoid using tobacco: These products are very harsh on your body, especially oral health. When you stop using tobacco, it helps your body heal faster.
  • Eat nutritious foods: When you eat foods rich in nutrients and vitamins, it helps in boosting your immune system.
  • Often rinse your mouth: This practice helps keep all food and debris off your gums and teeth. Rinsing your mouth and brushing and flossing decreases the chance of dental decay and infections.


How to take care of your teeth during cancer treatment?

You might experience some mild to severe side effects during your cancer treatment. Make sure you have consulted your cancer care team before dental checkups, especially when you have a port for getting medications and feeding. This is vital as patients having port might be taking anti-blood clotting medications which can enhance bleeding during the medical and dental process.

A few side affects you get from cancer treatment that affects your oral health are:

  • Mouth sores
  • Dry mouth
  • Sensitive teeth and gum disease
  • Jaw Pain
  • Oral infections


Tips to follow to avoid oral issues during cancer treatment

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Try to eat healthy food
  • Rinse your mouth maximum times.
  • Drink a lot of water


How to take care of your teeth after cancer treatment?

After your cancer treatment is completed, you might experience some dental problems. While working hard to achieve your best health, do not forget to take good care of your oral health. Here are a few things you should take into consideration after the completion of your cancer treatment:

  • Visit your dentist regularly
  • Brush your teeth
  • Floss daily
  • Rinse your mouth a lot of times
  • Try to avoid tobacco

Cancer treatment has a high chance of giving a lot of side effects that have an impact on your mouth. However, when you work together with your cancer doctor and oral health doctors, it assists in decreasing the risk as well as the seriousness of those side effects. Check with your dentist before you start cancer treatment and tell them about any issues with your mouth. MyDentalPlan is one such platform with numerous dentists under one roof. Choose the one you think will suit you and schedule an appointment.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.

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