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Cancer therapy and dental consequences

cancer therapy

Patients undergoing cancer therapy need to maintain their overall and delicate state of health in balance, without incurring further complications, for this reason it is important not to neglect the teeth and the relative dental care.

Fortunately for us, the mortality rate following a tumor is falling sharply. According to data presented by the Italian Cancer Registers Association (AIRTUM), three out of five Italians continue to live five years after diagnosis. A result certainly due to awareness campaigns towards the prevention and efficacy of new cancer therapies.

Cancer patients, therefore, in addition to being able to count on a wider life expectancy today, are subjected to very strong therapies that could have consequences on other aspects of health, in particular that of the mouth. During the stages of treatment of a tumor it would therefore always be advisable to consult your dentist, in order to combine the cancer treatment with dental care and thus preserve the general state of health.

What dental care should patients on cancer therapy follow?

During therapy, any treatment becomes difficult to do and therefore cancer patients should visit a dentist before starting the treatments and after the conclusion of any cancer therapies.

Preventive dental care

Cancer patients should always check the health of their teeth and mouth before undergoing radiation or chemo therapy. In fact, oncological therapy could affect the pH of saliva, among the side effects there is in fact the poor salivation and a higher acidity of the saliva itself.

In both cases, the direct consequence on oral health is the possibility of contracting infections or caries more easily. Not only that, an acid salivary pH promotes the progressive erosion of the enamel making it more fragile and subject to fractures.

Therefore, before undergoing treatment for cancer contrast, it is advisable to check the following conditions through an accurate dental examination:

  • presence in the oral cavity of ongoing pathologies (caries, gingivitis, periodontitis …);oral_surgery_implantology
  • possibility of incurring a deterioration in the state of health of the mouth following oncological therapies;
  • evaluate the overall state of teeth and bones with detailed diagnostic tests;
  • in the presence of mobile prostheses or fixed dental implants, evaluate the impact of cancer therapy on their stability;
  • plan periodic check-ups.

Dental care after cancer therapy

At the end of the cycle of oncological therapy, it is advisable to continue constantly in setting periodic dental visits, preferably on a quarterly basis.

In the post-therapeutic phase it is strongly discouraged for cancer patients to endure invasive dental interventions, for this reason a lot of attention must also be paid to home oral hygiene.

A fluoride based mouthwash can be used to prevent tooth decay and enamel reinforcement.

The operations dedicated to brushing the teeth could be painful following oncology therapy, for this reason cancer patients are advised to use a soft bristle brush or, alternatively, it is possible to clean the teeth with sterile gauze soaked in mouthwash.

Those who wear mobile prostheses are advised to clean the prosthesis thoroughly and not to use it during sleep hours.

Cancer patients are in fact subject to a drastic drop in immune defenses, even teeth and gums suffer this type of vulnerability and can be a vehicle for infections that would greatly complicate the patient’s clinical picture.

Oncologists and dentists can therefore work closely together to promote the least traumatic course possible for the patient.

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