Managing the Oral Effects of Cancer Treatment
The big “C” word – cancer – elicits fear and uncertainty when one is given this diagnosis. Usually treatment steps happen quickly, but what often goes unmentioned is the way cancer can impact the entire body. One thing dental providers often hear about from patients is the oral pain and discomfort caused by cancer treatments like radiology and chemo.
Treatments aimed to save lives from cancer can greatly impact the oral cavity. In fact, nearly one-third of cancer patients develop oral complications. Chemotherapy and radiation can affect not only the teeth and gums, but also the oral mucosa and salivary glands. Rampant tooth decay, difficulty swallowing (due to lack of moisture), bleeding, gum disease, and changes in taste are all reported side effects of life-saving cancer treatments.
Mucositis is an inflammation or sores within the lining of the oral cavity, which can be severely painful and lead to infections. Cancer treatments, along with a suppressed immune system, put individuals at risk for viral, bacterial and fungal infections. Yet the most common complaint from patients is pain or altered taste, which can lead to an individual not eating, thus getting malnourished or dehydrated.
Additionally, many patients suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia) caused by medications and/or radiation. In hopes of finding relief from the discomfort and malodor, many turn to rinses, lozenges or candies. In reality, these things may cause more harm than good, especially when individuals use an alcohol-based oral rinse. Strong taste and an alcohol base can cause even more discomfort, dryness and irritation. Instead, recommend a mild rinse like Oxyfresh Gentle Formula Mouthwash. It’s uniquely free of alcohol, dyes, sweeteners and flavors, making it perfect for patients who are undergoing cancer treatment.
Many times, I hear from patients who suffer greatly with sores related to treatment, where they are unable to brush their teeth without intense pain. They ask what can be done to help soothe their discomfort since they are barely able to eat from mucositis. While there are many different products on the market for tooth sensitivity, few also address the oral tissues. Oxyfresh Pro Relief Dental Gel focuses on the tissues of the mouth to help promote healing and soothing relief. This pH-balanced, alcohol-free gel helps provide moisture to dry and irritated tissues with a comforting blend of aloe vera, chamomile and essential oil.
Dental concerns are often a rarely discussed side effect of cancer treatment. However, they can have a huge overall impact on the comfort and nutrition of patients. During the cancer journey, Oxyfresh is here alongside you to provide patients with real solutions to help soothe the harsh oral side effects of cancer treatment.