Cancer is one of those unfortunate illnesses that seemingly affects all of us in some way, either directly or through a family member or friend. The impact is significant for cancer patients and their friends and family alike. Before a patient begins cancer treatment, it is crucial to see a dentist, and this article will explain why. Your dentist should be a part of your cancer “care team”, which will also include your oncologist, your family doctor, and possibly an oral surgeon or a periodontist. Cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy have the potential to cause oral side effects. Dry mouth, bleeding gums, mouth sores/ulcerations, and infections are just a few examples. None of these is desirable, and you will want to minimize their prevalence and associated results. For example, dry mouth puts you at greater risk for tooth decay, and chemotherapy reduces the body’s ability to fight off dental infections. Your dentist will advise you on existing problems that need to be addressed before your treatment begins; you will want a stable, healthy mouth during cancer treatment. In cases of head and neck cancer, seeing your dentist is especially important before you receive chemotherapy and radiation therapy, as it can help prevent major problems from occurring. As mentioned above, you may notice you have dry mouth and a decrease in saliva during radiation treatment. That’s because normal salivary gland function is often reduced by the treatment. With a decrease in saliva, tooth decay can happen very quickly. If a tooth has to be removed, the area may not heal properly, as the body’s ability to heal is also affected. Prevention is key, and your dentist will be able to advise you on the measures to take before your treatments begin. This may include things such as daily fluoride applications, and diet and oral hygiene counselling. During your cancer treatment, make sure you take some time everyday to check and see how your mouth feels. If you notice a problem, or see an existing problem exacerbate, contact your dentist right away. We are a family oriented New Westminster dental clinic that has been deeply connected with our community for over three decades. We serve as oral and dental health advisors to our patients, and we would love to play an important role in your pursuit of a healthy life. Call us at 604-522-2425 to book an appointment with us.]]>