3 Reasons to See Your Dentist During Cancer Treatment

3 Reasons to See Your Dentist During Cancer Treatment

Posted by Dr. Thomas Flavin Sep 29,2020

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People who undergo cancer treatments may experience changes in their dental health. Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery can all affect a person's oral health. Seeing your dentist during cancer treatment can help minimize these effects.

Decreased white blood cells

You will have fewer white cells in your blood, which will make you more likely to get an infection. Because your immune system is weakened by cancer treatments, it will be harder for your body to fight infections. This makes you more likely to have a bacterial infection in your mouth. A root canal treatment may be required if a severe infection occurs.

Bacteria can also cause inflammation in your gums. This is called gingivitis and can lead to gum disease. If you have decreased white blood cells, you are more likely to develop this painful condition as well.

An untreated tooth or root can be a huge pain when undergoing cancer treatment. The treatments typically cause dry mouth, which can increase decay and wear on a tooth or root that doesn't get treated. This is because there is less saliva to rinse away food and neutralize acids in the mouth. While the issue may resolve after treatment has ended, it is best to resolve the issue before it starts. Also, if the affected teeth become abscessed, the infection can spread through the bloodstream to other parts of the body and cause serious complications.

Calcium reduction

Chemotherapy reduces your body's ability to absorb calcium from your food. This can lead to weak bones and teeth. If you've received a cancer diagnosis, it's critical that you see your dentist regularly to make sure your teeth and jaw are healthy. Here's what you should do during cancer treatment to protect your oral health.

1- Brush and floss your teeth after each meal to remove the plaque that can build up on your teeth. Consider using fluoride toothpaste for an added layer of protection against tooth decay.

2- Visit your dentist for a cleaning every six months or as often as recommended. During this appointment, your dentist will clean away any buildup of plaque or tartar that has accumulated since your last dental check-up.

3- Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you notice any changes in your teeth or gums. An abscessed tooth or an inflamed gum can be a sign of infection that requires fast treatment to prevent the spread of bacteria around your mouth.


A recent study found that patients who have cancer are at an increased risk of developing mucositis. Mucositis is the inflammation or ulceration of the mucus membranes anywhere along the digestive tract. This isn't the only risk that patients face during cancer treatment, though -- there are many other concerns as well, including decreased white blood cells and calcium reduction.

While mucositis is a common side effect of cancer treatment, it can be difficult to diagnose because it often doesn't cause pain. When it does produce symptoms, it may mimic some other medical conditions, such as a urinary tract infection or gastroesophageal reflux disease. That being said, there are two main signs to look out for:

  • A burning sensation in the mouth
  • Loss of appetite

These symptoms are due to inflammation of the mucous membranes. One way to treat this is with over-the-counter medications and heat therapy; however, your dentist may also prescribe medications, laser dentistry, or other treatments. Talk to your dentist about any concerns you may have and what steps you should take to handle these symptoms.

If you've been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy treatments, you should make sure to schedule an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. He or she can then perform an oral exam and discuss any treatment options that may work best for you.

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