Quiet Corner Dental Blog
December 10, 2017
It can be devastating to find out you or a loved one has cancer. Even when treatment is available, side effects are notorious for occurring long after cancer has gone into remission. According to your dentist in Putnam, some of these side effects can affect your oral health.
You’ll want to prepare for the process that comes after cancer treatment. Take a moment to read what common side effects occur and how to treat them when they do.
Side Effects Common After Cancer Treatment
Several cancer treatments can cause side effects in your mouth, teeth, and salivary glands, making it difficult to eat, chew, or swallow. These can vary depending on the type of cancer treatment you experienced, so keep that in mind as you review them below.
Radiation therapy to the head and neck can cause:
- Dry mouth
- Decrease in saliva production or thickened saliva
- Loss of taste
- Mouth sores
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Increased risk in tooth decay
- Bone disease
These side affects can be temporary or occur for several years after treatment, so be sure to tell your dentist when they appear or discontinue. Chemotherapy as well as stem cell/bone marrow transplantation can have the above-mentioned side effects as well the following:
- Pain in the mouth and gums
- Peeling or burning of the tongue
- Changes in taste
- Temporary decrease in your body’s ability to produce infection-fighting cells
You’ll want to keep track of the medications you’re currently taking or have previous taken as they can also cause unexpected effects. For example, if you take bisphosphonates you can get osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) which causes weakening and loss of bone in that area. If you opted for targeted therapies to remove cancer, you may have been prescribed mTOR inhibitors which can cause canker sores.
Managing and Treating These Side Effects
It’s important to practice palliative care, or care that’s specifically for side effects during and after cancer treatment. For example, use mouth rinses containing salt and baking soda to treat mouth sores. If you are taking blood pressure medication, use a prescribed rinse designed to soothe sore spots. Pain medications can also be used to treat pain from these mouth sores and come in several applications.
Drink plenty of water and other sugarless fluids to reduce dry mouth. Avoid soda, fruit juice, tobacco and alcohol as this can exacerbate your dry mouth. Some medications can help you produce more saliva such as topical oral gels. If you’re experiencing infection, your doctor should prescribe you antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and/or antifungal drugs for treatment.
Taking Preventive Measures for Future Treatments
It’s recommended to see your dentist at least 4 weeks prior to starting your cancer treatment. This way they can treat tooth decay, ensure any oral devices are properly fitted, and remove any devices that could irritate parts of your mouth. Be sure to tell your dentist to share relevant information with your cancer doctor so they can plan your care together.
For at-home care, gently brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. Soak an extra-soft toothbrush in warm water to reduce irritation brushing may cause. Include a fluoride gel or rinse to catch extra bacteria that’s missed after brushing. Avoid alcohol; very hot, cold, spicy, acidic, or crunchy foods; and watch your sugar intake to reduce bacteria. Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D and calcium each day to help your jaw and teeth stay strong.
Schedule an appointment with your dentist in Putnam before starting your cancer treatment today.
About the Author
Dr. Walter McGinn attended Providence College before achieving his Doctor of Dental Medicine at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. The following year, he completed his General Practice residency at Long island Jewish Hospital. To learn more about this practice, contact him at (860) 928-3723 or visit his website.
November 16, 2017
The holidays are an exciting time of year as you gather with friends and loved ones over warm meals. No gettogether is complete without a few yummy sweat treats, like cookies and cakes. While it may seem like a few days of overindulgence will not cause any harm, this could not be further from the truth. Not only are sugary treats bad for your waistline, but your dental health as well. If you are not careful, it could lead to some unexpected news at your next appointment with your dentist in Putnam. To protect your smile during the holidays, there are some simple tips to keep in mind.
October 17, 2017
Thinking about choosing toothpaste is enough to cause a panic attack for some people. With so many options to choose from where do you even start? Staring at the wall of choices can feel daunting, and how will you know which brand or type is right for your needs? Your dentist in Putnam has advice on choosing the right toothpaste so the next time you face the toothpaste aisle will be a breeze.
September 24, 2017
A recent study published in the Journal of Oral Microbiology just revealed something rather surprising, even for dentists who have studied the mouth quite a bit. In this study, researchers wanted to find what kinds of bacteria are typically present in clinically healthy coronary and femoral artery tissues. The human body is filled with bacteria, and most of it is harmless or even helpful, but they wanted to see if anything in this particularly sensitive part of the anatomy could have serious health implications. While they did find a large array of bacteria, the one particular strain that turned out to be the most common was actually P. gingivalis, a highly toxic, common oral pathogen. How did it get their? What does this mean for your oral and heart health? Your dentist in Putnam discusses this little known connection. (more…)
August 30, 2017
Are you unhappy with the way your teeth look? Millions of people suffer from the embarrassment of having chipped, discolored, or otherwise unattractive teeth. Your cosmetic dentist in Putnam is happy to help you achieve the smile of your dreams! One of the ways through which this is possible is via cosmetic bonding and shaping. What does this process involve, and what can it do for you?
August 14, 2017
You started smoking cigarettes around the time you were in high school. It quickly became a part of your personality. At some point in your life, you felt an unusual lump in your throat and thought, “Please don’t be cancer.” You decided to quit for the first time, but you continued to smoke. Sound familiar? Not only do you face developing oral cancer, but now after years of smoking, you’re now facing tooth loss. Your Putman dentist understands how difficult it can be to quit using tobacco, we run into patients that use it all the time! However, that does not make it any better for either your general or oral health—especially if you plan on replacing your teeth with dental implants.
June 18, 2017
From daily brushing and flossing to regular checkups at the dentist, prevention is a vital step for healthy, long lasting teeth and gums. Your Putnam dentist stresses the need for preventive dentistry for patients of all ages, including education and strong oral hygiene practices at home and in our comfortable office. Proper dental care can help you avoid cavities, gum disease, and tooth sensitivity for a lifetime to come.
May 19, 2017
Did you know that most Americans think your smile is your most important physical feature? Having a memorable grin can even lead to increased success at work and better odds of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right. So, to get the most out of your pearly whites, follow these tips from your respected Putnam dentist, Dr. Carolyn and Walter McGinn. In this post, they share their expertise on maintaining a healthy radiant smile.
April 22, 2017
You’ve noticed blood in the sink lately as you brush your teeth. Your teeth don’t hurt so it must not be a big deal, right? Wrong! This is actually a great time to contact your dentist and schedule a cleaning and check-up because teeth that bleed during brushing indicate the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease. Learn more about here about periodontal disease and the importance of gum health.
March 13, 2017
Every time you go out with your friends, you dress your best. It takes a few hours to pick out the perfect outfit, do your hair, and apply just the right amount of makeup. The finishing touch is always a deep red, almost maroon lip color that adds just the right amount of edge to your chic get up. As you look in the mirror at your finished look, a smile spreads across your face and your confidence instantly sinks. Your teeth have yellowed so much over the years! Your Putnam dentist, either Drs. Carolyn or Walter McGinn, are here to inform you on the foods and drinks you should avoid for expedited discoloration on your teeth. Our dental practice also offers whitening services for you if you’ve been longing for a glistening, bright smile.