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Oral health and chemo – what you need to know

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Oral dental treatment is advised for cancer patients even before they begin chemo or radio therapies, to reduce the risk of the side-effects.


(Excerpted From: Aisan Age, July 2016)

Cancer patients are found to face oral health problems like dryness of mouth, change in sense of taste, mouth sores, difficulty in swallowing, breaking of teeth and pain in gums, especially as they undergo chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. These are often neglected leading to problems like gum diseases and oral complications, which are addressed at a much later stage. Any damage to the lining of the mouth due to the weakened immune system must be addressed early, state experts, insisting that a maxillofacial surgeon must be in the panel which decides treatment modules.

The side effect of chemotherapy and radiotherapy leads to several oral manifestations which are very debilitating for the patients. In case of cancers in the head and neck region, the complications are even more severe. Radiation therapy causes a large amount of inconsistency in the patient’s saliva, leading to increased risk of dental decay.

Strong dosages of chemotherapy lead to temporary dysfunction of the body’s ability to produce infection-fighting cells. High doses of chemotherapy leads to dry mouth, decreased saliva, mouth sores, sensitivity to spicy or acidic foods and difficulty in swallowing. It also increases the risk of tooth decay.

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