Recently I've discussed how imperative it is to actively address dental health during treatment for various types of cancer. Cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy can lead to a wide range of side effects, and their impact on oral health is no exception.
But what about your dental health care once you've completed your cancer treatment? While your oncologist may have given you a cancer-free bill of health, in terms of your dental health, you might not be out of the woods yet. Chemotherapy, in particular, can have lasting effects on your oral wellness.
To evaluate your ongoing dental health, make sure to keep up with your regularly-scheduled dental appointments. Although most people can stay on top of dental developments with regular appointments every six months, your dentist may feel the need for you to schedule additional appointments following cancer treatment. You should also continue to practice good oral hygiene and a regular routine of brushing and flossing. After finishing chemotherapy you may be able to return to using the dental health products you preferred prior to treatment. Your dentist can help you make this decision.
Chemotherapy can change mouth structure and the fit of dentures and other appliances. Your dentist can help with an examination by making adjustments to your appliances to make them fit better and be more comfortable.
If you've been waiting to finish cancer treatment in order to address any specific dental problems like cavities or oral surgery, now may be the time to consider any such necessary procedures. Your dentist can continue to consult with your oncologist and other physicians as to your ongoing care. Chemotherapy can affect platelet count and the production of white blood cells, and your dentist will take these concerns into consideration when scheduling and handling any procedures. Platelets are essential in clotting and healing, while white blood cells are integral to warding off infection, which is always a concern with any type of surgery.
Having undergone cancer treatment, you may be at greater lifelong risk for certain oral health complications. Your dentist will closely follow any developments that might have an adverse impact on the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. You might see an increased incidence of cavities, thinning of the roots of the teeth, or increased tooth stains or discoloration. Your dentist will know to be alert for the increased probability of such issues.
As with any matters of your well being, when it comes to your oral health, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The good news is that your dentist will know what to watch for following your cancer treatment and can work with you to prevent future problems.