Understanding the Importance of a Healthy Smile
While cancer treatment can be difficult for most patients, and result in the need for restorative dental treatment, it may require specialized dental care for children. In addition to the side effects listed above, children under the age of nine are at risk of abnormal tooth and jaw development. Because of this, prior to undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, your dentist may recommend extracting your child’s loose primary teeth to prevent damage to their adult teeth. Tooth extractions may also be recommended for adult patients who have existing damaged teeth that may pose a threat once cancer treatment begins.
Before you undergo cancer treatment, it’s important to meet with your dentist to craft the most effective plan for maintaining the health of yours or your child’s smile. Knowing the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in advance can prevent potential problems from developing into something more serious.
During cancer treatment, it’s important that you still attend routine dental cleanings and examinations, as well as maintain good oral hygiene habits to remove unhealthy plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums. The following may help with minimizing any oral pain as a result of chemotherapy:
- Brush carefully with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Floss daily using gentle techniques
- Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol
- Rinse nightly with a baking soda and salt water solution to alleviate uncomfortable ulcers
- Avoid consuming foods high in sugar
- Avoid spicy, acidic, or hard-to-chew foods
- Do not smoke
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dry mouth
After your cancer treatment is completed, any teeth that need to be repaired can be treated with restorative dental care, such as composite fillings or dental crowns.