3 FAQ’s About Oral Health and Breast Cancer

A breast cancer diagnosis may be daunting, but your dentist can help you understand the oral health implications of treatment.

A breast cancer diagnosis may be daunting, but your dentist can help you understand the oral health implications of treatment.

With the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Journey kicking off in Phoenix tomorrow, our hearts are with all the brave people battling this devastating disease. If you have recently been diagnosed, here are three frequently asked questions about the effects cancer treatment can have on your oral health.

Q. I will be undergoing treatment for breast cancer. I have heard that I should have a dental exam done. Should I plan a visit before or after treatment?
A: If you need to undergo chemotherapy, you need to visit the dentist for a checkup prior to the treatment. This is advisable as chemotherapy suppresses white blood cells, which fight against infection, and any existing dental problems may flare up. Your dentist is an important member of your treatment team.

Q. What oral health issues may I face during breast cancer treatment?
A: This would depend on the medications used during chemotherapy. Your doctor will decide the correct treatment for you, but sometimes a combination of medication is used to suppress the immune system of the body. This can lead to a condition called mucositis, an inflammation of the mouth. The condition can be quite painful and cause problems in swallowing, speech and language, and also affect appetite.

Q. Is there a dental health regimen that I should follow during treatment?
A: Yes. Your dental routine should involve regular brushing and flossing. You can also use alcohol-free mouthwash to prevent bacterial infection. Your dentist might suggest avoiding any dental procedures during the time you are undergoing therapy for cancer. If you develop a case of mucositis your dentist might recommend medication to ease symptoms.

While we want you to use our answers as information, remember that your dentist is the expert on this topic and can offer you much more detail and guidance on your personal case.

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