Chemotherapy and radiation can rid your body of malignant tumors; however, they also cause negative side effects to your health. This is true for oral health as well, especially if you are receiving treatment near the neck or head. Mouth sores, jaw pain, gum disease, and a dry mouth can all develop because of cancer therapy and a weakened immune system. Here are a few things you should know about preventing the oral side effects caused by cancer.
- Maintain oral hygiene practices while undergoing cancer therapy to help prevent side effects from developing.
- Be careful when brushing and flossing your teeth because your oral tissues may be more sensitive. Try soaking your toothbrush in warm water to soften the bristles.
- See your dentist regularly while undergoing treatment. Be sure to let them know about the cancer therapy so they can take extra care in cleaning and examining your mouth.
- Let your cancer team know when you are going to see the dentist, especially if you are taking an anti-blood clotting medication (which can increase bleeding during dental procedures).
- Avoid foods that can aggravate the oral tissue. These foods include spicy, acidic, crunchy, or alcoholic items. Be sure to eat healthy foods to strengthen your immune system.
- Contact your cancer team if you develop an infection in your mouth. This can appear as a sore; a sticky, white film; or swelling and bleeding. An infection needs to be treated as soon as possible because it can delay cancer treatment.