2 Potential Dental Health Complications For Cancer Patients

If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer, you will soon come into contact with a varied team of medical professionals. You might expect encounters with radiologists and chemotherapy providers. However, did you know that your dentist also becomes an important part of this team?

There are a variety of dental health complication tied to cancer treatment. Here are two of the more common problems you might face.

Oral Mucositis

Mucositis occurs when your treatment procedures cause cellular vulnerabilities in the mouth that leave the mucous membrane vulnerable and exposed. Symptoms include mouth and gum sores, trouble swallowing, and discomfort while eating. Your tongue might also develop an uncomfortable white coating.

There's no surefire way to prevent mucositis from occurring but establishing a proper oral health care routine with your dentist can minimize your chances. Your dentist will likely advise you to brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush several times a day, to gargle with salt water to help prevent mucositis, and/or to keep  any sores clean that are beginning to form. Your dentist will ensure your dentures fit properly, if applicable, before you begin cancer treatment to ensure the dentures can't cause abrasions and encourage mucositis.

Treatment involves oral health, avoiding irritants such as spicy foods or tobacco and using over-the-counter or prescription mouthwashes for the discomfort. ucositis will eventually go away on its own if you keep up with these practices.


This condition arises due to a decrease in saliva production. This can leave your mouth feeling raw and sore and make it difficult to speak or eat. Dry foods will pose a particular problem for both chewing and swallowing. You will be extra thirsty and might experience a loss of taste.

Xerostomia in cancer patients makes your mouth more susceptible to other infections that can cause decay so oral health care becomes important. Your dentist might advise you to brush with a fluoride toothpaste and follow that with a fluoride mouthwash. Keep regular dental appointments for cleanings to cut down on the amount of bacteria lingering around your teeth and gums.

Treat xerostomia with either prescription or over-the-counter saliva stimulants that can ease your discomfort. You should also avoid irritating foods and drink that are spicy or acidic in nature.

Prior to beginning chemotherapy or radiation, it's vital to ensure you have a dentist with experience treating cancer-related oral health problems. Call Sidney Harbour Dental Center with any dental emergencies. Early treatment can make the difference between months of pain and discomfort or even permanent tooth and gum damage.