Around 80% of individuals undergoing myeloablative chemotherapy experience oral complications and conditions, according to professor in cancer and palliative care, Munikumar Ramasamy Venkatasalu. It is crucial for individuals with cancer and their caretakers to know how to sufficiently address conditions that may occur in all areas of health. In this case, it helps to know several helpful oral care tips to help patients maintain proper oral health.
Understand Common Oral Complications
Cancer patients often have a high risk of developing oral complications, as radiation therapy can cause direct damage and break down to salivary glands and oral tissue, according to the National Cancer Institute. Understanding some of the more common oral complications like fibrosis, tooth decay, and periodontitis can help you to spot any early symptoms so they can be nipped in the bud before they become exacerbated with time. Requesting a list of oral complications and their common symptoms from a dentist can help keep information fresh and easily accessible.
Schedule Veneer Cleaning Every Six Months
Veneers are often seen as a good option for cancer patients who have struggled with oral complications. However, just because a person has veneers, it does not mean that they are immune to cavities and gum disease. While veneers — especially porcelain ones — can last an average of 15 to 20 years, proper care and regular cleaning sessions can ensure they last longer. So for those with veneers, scheduling a cleaning session every six months is a must. A cleaning appointment also gives a dental professional an opportunity to give their client an update on the current state of their oral health.
Eat Bone-Building Foods
A good way to keep up a patient’s oral health and stave off any chemotherapy side effects is by ingesting more bone-building foods, according to Cancer.net. Eating more foods that increase the presence of Vitamin D and calcium help keep jaws and teeth strong. Some of the foods that help make bones strong are dairy products and cruciferous vegetables. Other good bone-building foods are nuts like almonds and pecans, as they are a good source of magnesium and phosphorus. Seeds like chia, pumpkin and flaxseed are also good sources of calcium, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. So not only will a patient’s oral health improve, but other aspects of their health will be boosted as well.
Maintain Brushing And Flossing Every Day
Naturally, the best way to keep oral health up is by relying on good habits like brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly. It is recommended that a patient’s toothbrush be soaked in warm water to help soften any bristles to avoid bruising gums that have become sensitive because of radiation therapy. Ask a dentist for special instructions on how to brush and floss to lower the risk of bleeding gums and infection.
Oral health is crucial to general health and overall quality of life. Therefore, cancer patients and their caregivers must be proactive in ensuring that good habits are maintained in order to keep away negative conditions. It is also recommended to keep in touch with the patient’s primary physician and dentist so that they may be able to catch any complications before they fully set in.