In the United States, more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. Research has found that there is a link between oral health and the likelihood of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment surveyed 3,000 people and found that among those with chronic periodontal disease there was a higher incidence of breast cancer. Therefore, seeing Dr. Madhav, your dentist in Plano, is important for helping to prevent this disease and for making sure teeth and gums remain healthy if you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation for breast cancer.
Breast Cancer and Your Smile
Among people being treated for breast cancer—and although women make up the majority of breast cancer patients, men can be diagnosed as well—more than one-third will develop complications that affect their oral health. Moreover, preexisting or untreated oral disease such as tooth decay or periodontal disease can complicate cancer treatment. With this in mind, the American Cancer Society recommends seeing your dentist at least one month before you begin treatment.
Most chemotherapy treatments suppress white blood cells, which help protect against infection including periodontal disease. In addition, chemotherapy tends to decrease saliva production, which can lead to dry mouth, tooth decay and other oral complications. All of these can be hazardous when your immune system is suppressed.
Chemotherapy can also cause a person’s mouth to become inflamed, a condition called mucositis. This can be quite painful and may impact a patient’s ability to taste, swallow, speak and even sleep.
Tips for Maintaining Oral Health During Breast Cancer Treatment
To keep your teeth and gums healthy while you are having chemotherapy or radiation treatments, Dr. Madhav recommends the following:
- Brush your teeth and gums with a soft toothbrush twice a day. Use a gentle touch—vigorous brushing is not necessary to keep your mouth clean.
- Floss at least once a day. Be gentle here, too, but make sure you floss all the way down to the gum line.
- Use alcohol-free mouthwash after you brush and floss.
- If your doctor tells you that your white blood cell count is low, then avoid dental treatment.
- Don’t schedule a dentist’s appointment for about one week after chemotherapy treatment.
- Chew gum with xylitol, which can promote overall oral health and help prevent cavities.
- If you are a denture wearer, keep them clean and make sure they always fit well.
- Schedule biannual visits with your dentist in Plano, so problems can be found and treated early.
Call Your Dentist in Plano Today
If you are currently undergoing chemotherapy or radiation for breast cancer, or if you are about to begin treatment, call Preston Bend Dental to schedule an appointment. We are here to help before, during and after treatment.