Being diagnosed with cancer can be a shocking time in one’s life at any age. Chemotherapy is the common approach to eliminating this deadly disease, but it does have negative impacts on overall health throughout your recovery. From nausea and fatigue to aches and pains, there’s a lot of issues that can come up through these life-saving treatments. In fact, chemotherapy can even have an impact on your overall oral health.
Chemo and Your Teeth
While chemotherapy is highly effective in killing cancerous cells, it also destroys healthy cells throughout the body. For example, head and neck cancer patients may deal with squamous cell carcinomas that begin in the salivary glands. While chemotherapy or other treatments can be used to address lumps and sores in the mouth, this can result in long-term oral health issues. Cancer patients have experienced pain in their teeth and gums brought on by sensitivity resulting from the body’s failure to develop new cells in the mouth.
Among the other oral complications that cancer patients may experience is difficulty swallowing. This condition is referred to as dysphagia and usually results in pain due to a failure to replenish salivary glands and the lining of the esophagus while digesting. Mouth sores, changes in taste, and even loose teeth have been common for those receiving chemo. These issues can last a long time after therapy, putting somewhat of a damper on remission as the body rebuilds.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
A cancer diagnosis can be a terrifying moment for a patient and their loved ones. While some oncologists may opt for removal of a tumor or radiation therapy, other doctors turn to chemotherapy to treat more aggressive cancerous cells. Cancer cells tend to grow fast, and chemo drugs kill fast-growing cells. This treatment travels throughout the body and is not isolated to where cancer cells are. Damage to healthy cells causes side effects. Side effects are not always as bad as you might expect, but it’s normal to worry about this part of cancer treatment.
Some chemotherapy can lead to organ damage in the heart, kidneys, bladder, lungs, and nervous system. Some doctors will prescribe medication with chemo to help protect your body’s normal cells. There are also treatments offered to help relieve side effects. Doctors opt for chemo at levels high enough to treat cancer while keeping side effects at a minimum. They also try to avoid using multiple drugs that have similar side effects. Sometimes the side effects can last a lifetime, such as when chemo causes long-term damage to the organs.
Taking Care of Your Teeth
It’s important for patients receiving chemotherapy or recovering from treatment to still manage their dental care. If you’re exploring options for dental treatment, take the time to search “cosmetic and general dentistry in Lakewood, OH“. Experts recommend two visits per year for proper treatment, with some suggesting an additional visit after chemotherapy treatment to address any underlying issues brought on by loose teeth, sores, or sensitivity within the mouth.
Some patients opt for cosmetic dentistry after chemo, such as veneers to start anew because of damage brought on the teeth that go beyond whitening treatments. A dentist may opt for more complex procedures like a root canal or tooth extraction depending on the condition of overall oral health after chemotherapy. Dentists will however recommend regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste to build back the strength of the teeth. Staying hydrated will also help fight dry mouth brought on by issues with the salivary glands. Your dentist, just like other members of your care team, are crucial in helping you regain some normality after cancer treatment.