Chemotherapy is designed to kill cancer cells, but it can also harm normal cells, such as the cells in your mouth and throat. That means that, if you are undergoing chemotherapy in the near-future, you will need to give special attention to your oral care in order to reduce discomfort and avoid infection. Below are a few tips that can help you maintain good oral hygiene and ease oral pain during your cancer treatment.
Visit Your Dentist Before Treatment Begins
It’s a good idea to schedule a dentist appointment at least two weeks before starting your chemotherapy treatment. This will help catch and eliminate any potential issues before your mouth becomes more tender and more susceptible to infection. It will also give you a chance to inform your dentist of your upcoming treatment plan, so that they can be aware of the situation and help monitor your oral health.
Increase Tooth Brushing Frequency
Most dentists recommend brushing at least twice a day for optimal oral health. However, when you are undergoing chemotherapy, it is important to brush after you eat anything, lest you become susceptible to an infection. Use a brush with soft bristles, and be gentle on your gums. You may also want to use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.
As long as your platelet count is above 20,000, it is generally acceptable to floss your teeth regularly. This will minimize inflammation of the soft tissues in your mouth, and reduce your likelihood of developing gum disease. If possible, start a good flossing routine prior to starting chemotherapy so that your gums are healthy going into treatment.
Avoid Spices, Alcohol, and Acid
Hot and spicy sauces can increase pain and sensitivity, especially if you have sores in your mouth. Caffeinated beverages, alcohol, citrus fruits, and tomatoes should also be avoided. Finally, avoid foods that have a lot of sugar, because it causes enamel-destroying bacteria to proliferate, and your teeth are more vulnerable to infections and cavities during cancer treatment.
Reach out to Your Charleston Dentist Team
At any time during your cancer treatment, be sure to reach out to your healthcare team and dentist if you experience swelling or pain in the mouth or jaw; trouble swallowing; mouth ulcerations that do not heal within one week; white patches in the mouth; a burning mouth sensation; or severe oral dryness. Letting us know what is going on as early as possible will help us provide an oral care plan that maximizes your health and safety.
If you have been diagnosed with cancer, our Charleston dentists are ready to be here for you during this difficult time. If you need a dentist in Charleston or James Island, please contact us here to set up an appointment.