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Dental Health and Cancer

Posted 4/27/2016

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  One would have to work hard to find two more widely-disliked words to put in one title: dental and cancer. Here is a random tidbit that has always baffled and fascinated me: more women leave their husbands/partners for a dentist than for people of any other profession. How do you even get to know your dentist when you always are in a position where you can't talk?

  But I digress. There actually are connections between oral health and cancer treatment. The most common one is having to time any dental work with a period of normal blood counts. This is why it is often recommended to have a dental appointment and cleaning before starting chemotherapy. Not only can the dental work be dangerous, but the risk of developing an abscess or some other tooth problem while one's counts are low is higher.

  This is a fact sheet from Cancer Net:

Dental and Oral Health

Many drugs or types of radiation therapy for cancer affect a patient’s mouth, teeth, and salivary glands. These effectscan make it difficult to eat, talk, chew, or swallow. Fortunately, with good personal and professional care, people with cancer and their doctors can reduce these side effects.
In addition to your usual dentist, several other dental health professionals can also help with your oral care before,during, and after cancer treatment. These include:
An oral oncologist, who specializes in the dental and oral health of people with cancer
An oral surgeon, who performs surgery of the mouth and jaw
A periodontist, who diagnoses and treats gum disease
A maxillofacial prosthodontist, who replaces teeth or other structures in the mouth and jaws

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