Oral care during cancer treatment

Complications

  1. Oral bleeding: Cancer being a condition of uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells, the disease, and its treatment lowers the immunity of the patient. This leads to a decrease in the platelet count resulting in oral bleeding.
  2. Xerostomia or dry mouth: The radiations may affect the salivary gland which can cause dry mouth. That affects mastication, speech and swallowing.
  3. Pain: Weak immunity caused by chemotherapy results elevates the sensitivity of the patient. It thus decreases the pain threshold, resulting in fatigue and weakness.
  4. Infection: Decrease in immunity causes normal oral flora to dominate and infect the cavity. Most common being mucositis(infection of mucous membrane) and candidiasis caused by Candida albicans.
  5. Tooth decay: Saliva plays an important role in preventing dental decay. Dry mouth caused due to radiotherapy acts as a reservoir for bacteria, causing caries.
  6. Swollen gums: It may occur during the treatment of chemotherapy or radiotherapy. This is an indication of gum disease.

How to reduce oral complications prior to cancer treatment?

  • Have a well-balanced diet. Eating nutritious food will help you boost your immune system.
  • Maintain a good oral hygiene. Clean your teeth using the proper technique as recommended by your dentist/doctor.
  • Visit your dentist for a complete oral exam.
  • Rinsing your mouth as frequently as possible washes away any food particles and debris which will prevent further risk of dental caries and infection. You can also use saliva-inducing gums which are sugar-free.
  • Complete stoppage of tobacco and alcohol consumption.

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