Thursday, 5 March 2015
What Chemotherapy Patients Need to Know About Oral Health
Cancer patients around the world face chemotherapy treatment. A treatment that kills cancer cells and at the same time leads to a number of oral problems. Many patients undergo a number of different cancer treatments, this is determined by the type and stage of cancer they have. Some may have a short dose of chemotherapy, while others may undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
It is easy when you’re facing such a serious illness to forget about your oral health, but what many chemotherapy patients don’t realise is that chemotherapy can lead to oral health problems and with the right management, you can ensure your teeth and gums are kept healthy throughout the treatment process.
Patients undergoing chemotherapy often experience a number of oral issues, they suffer from dry mouth, painful and bleeding gums, infection and swollen tongue. Dry mouth can lead to dental cavities, while the body’s inability to clot blood can lead to bleeding gums, which in turn can lead to oral ulcers.
Anyone who have been advised that chemotherapy is their only solution to fight cancer, need to make an urgent dental appointment before they start treatment, according to leading dentist and specialist oral surgeon, Dr Tariq Drabu. According to Dr Tariq Drabu, dentists can examine themouth, take care of any fillings, gum diseases or issues, ensuring the patient has good oral health when they start their first round of chemotherapy.
It is essential for chemotherapy patients to follow a strict oral health routine, even though it may be the last thing on their mind at the time. Brushing for two minutes twice a day is imperative to reduce the risk of bacteria and eliminate plaque. You need to brush before bed and once in the morning using a fluoride toothpaste.
Flossing is also important. Floss between the teeth, where gum disease starts. Flossing removes any food particles and other debris which is hard to reach with a toothbrush. It may be a good idea to use a soft toothbrush which will reduce the risk of the gums bleeding. In some cases the dentist may recommend an oral rinse or fluoride treatment to use to reduce the risk of tooth decay during the chemotherapy treatment.
According to Tariq Drabu, there are a number of ways patients who are undergoing chemotherapy can reduce the risk of oral disease while they are having treatment. The first is to keep the mouth moist. The dry mouth can lead to tooth decay. Keeping the mouth moist can be achieved by drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar free chewing gum or even sucking ice chips if you aren’t feeling well on the day.
Using a fluoride toothpaste can be a great benefit when going through chemotherapy. Fluoride is found in most toothpastes sold on the market today and help prevent and manage tooth decay. Brushing twice daily for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste will help remove plaque and ensure high quality oral health.
Dr Tariq Drabu also mentioned that patients who are about to undergo chemotherapy and wear dentures must also visit their dentist before they start treatment. It is imperative that the dentures are still fitting properly and aren’t irritating the gums. Poor fitting dentures can be painful and uncomfortable when suffering with painful gums, a side effect of chemotherapy.
It is recommended that all patients ensure that they make a dentist appointment and discuss their chemotherapy with the dentist, this way the dentist is able to ensure the patient has good oral health before treatment starts, reducing the risk of chemotherapy negatively impacting the patients oral health.
About Dr Tariq Drabu
Dr Tariq Drabu is a leading dentist and specialist oral surgeon. This Manchester born and educated dentist was one of the youngest dentists to graduate in the United Kingdom. He has worked at some of the busiest hospitals in the UK and Saudi Arabia and completed his Fellowship in Dental Surgery from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He is the owner of the very successful Langley Dental Practice and is also the Clinical Lead Dentist for the Oral Surgery Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services at NHS Heywood Middleton and Rochdale. Tariq Drabu also teaches and mentors postgraduate dentists in oral surgery at the UCLAN Dental Clinic in Preston.