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Cancer and Dental Health

Posted 6/24/2014

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  This is not exactly a hot topic, I know, but dental health is important--and surely poor dental health is a cause of much pain and misery. Cancer treatment can complicate or even cause some dental problems, so it is worth having a good dentist and being generally well informed about this topic.

  Before you just sign out of this page without bothering to read further, let me try to hold you here with the one interesting and baffling fact that I know about dentists: more women leave their husbands or partners for a dentist than for any other type of professional. The more I think about that one, the more baffled I become. How do you even start to talk with your dentist with that thing hanging in your mouth to suck up the saliva?

  The one scary cancer dental fact that many women know is that there have been rare documented cases of bone-modifying drugs causing abcesses in the jaw. The more common problem is that it is not wise to have dental work when your blood counts are low, so people are usually advised to see a dentist before beginning chemotherapy. If something needs to be done during treatment, talk with your doctor about the safest scheduling.

  From Cancer Net comes this summary of dental issues:

Dental and Oral Health

Types of dental and oral side effects
Side effects of the mouth caused by cancer treatment may include:
• Dry mouth [3] (xerostomia)
• Mouth sores [4] (mucositis)
• Tooth decay
• Difficulty swallowing [5] (dysphagia)
• Difficulty chewing [6] or opening the mouth
• Infection [7]
• Bone disease
• Inflammation or pain in the lining of the mouth and tongue
Some side effects may disappear shortly after treatment is finished, while others may be long-lasting or permanent.

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