Cancer patients should go to the dentist before starting treatment
After the diagnosis of cancer, patients have to worry about a number of issues ranging from the type of treatment, expenses that will have, how long it will take etc. A point that many people overlook is the importance of consulting a dentist before starting the procedures.
Speaking to Vencer o Câncer, the dentist Luis Marcelo Sêneda, responsible for Oral Medicine department at St. Joseph Hospital - Charity Portuguese , explains that the recommendation to make a dental evaluation is for all cancer patients , not only those with tumors of the head and neck.
Pre- treatment consultation
The mouth can be a rich source of bacteria that are especially dangerous for those who will go into cancer treatment.
"We first, look for a possible source of infection, which may be a periodontal disease (gum disease and all tissues that support the teeth) or very deep cavities. We also found teeth with mobility and need to be removed before starting cancer treatment. This is extremely important because patients who use chemotherapy are left with the most weakened immune systems. Then a periodontal disease, for example, that there was chronic and the person never knew you had, can worsen and becomes a big problem."
"Some drugs have the ability to affect the mucosa of the mouth causing inflammation and ulcers similar to wounds, but which are called mucositis. Often the patient is weak and he cannot eat because of mucositis, because he feels a lot of pain. The mucosa is a protection, a protective barrier, and when we have to break this barrier, there is greater risk of infection by opportunistic agents. So the immunosuppression stage, they are more likely to happen", warns the dentist.
One way of preventing mucositis is a low-intensity laser therapy. The laser is a biostimulator which aids in reducing inflammation, modulates pain and aids in the injured tissue repair process. It is important to talk to your oncologist about this possibility.
Dry mouth during treatment
Often, the patient undergoing cancer treatment needs to take painkillers (opioids) and antidepressants. Some also take other drugs because they have other diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney disease. Because of this, it is extremely common rise to a dry mouth frame.
"The oral cavity is designed to be moist, not dry. To alleviate this symptom, there are currently oral lubricants that serve both to return and to improve lubrication of the mouth. They are available in the form of gel, spray or manipulated. Saliva is not only a mouth lubricant; it promotes self- care of the teeth. The patient with dry mouth has more bacterial plaque that accumulates most offensive agents and produces toxins, increasing the risk of mucositis, the most common oral complications during cancer treatment".
"Patients with cancer in the head and neck who are undergoing radiation therapy need more care, because it will produce less saliva. Moreover, as it is precisely the area that includes the mouth to be irradiated, there are risks of developing a type of decay with a delayed side effect called cavity radiation. Currently you see less than a few, due to the radiotherapy with modulated intensity, yet it takes a lot of attention. This type of decay that reaches the portion between teeth and gums develops very quickly and there is a huge risk for the patient end up losing the tooth."
Recommendations to be followed during cancer treatment:
Brush your teeth with paste containing fluoride.
Gargle with baking soda.
Remove the denture and make your cleaning properly.
Choose foods that require little or no chewing.
Avoid acidic, spicy, salty and dry foods.
Source: Vencer o Câncer.
Access: 10/08/2015. Available in: http://goo.gl/k8iewu