Dental Health and Cancer

Some significant dental complications can arise during and for long after some forms of cancer treatment. For that reason, expert dental care from an experienced dental provider partnered with the patient’s treating physicians is essential to long-term dental health for the cancer patient. Some of the following are complications that need to be addressed:

I am most pleased that my oncologist recommended Jeff Turner. My wife and I met with him with different dental problems, and he was most attentive and responsive to our needs. He obviously is technically skilled, but more importantly, patient-oriented. His staff is courteous and friendly. It may seem unlikely to say, but I won’t be late to any of my appointments with this guy!
Richard Hornick, Patient

“Xerostomia or Dry-Mouth”

After cancer radiation treatments near the head and neck, patients experience a slow-down of saliva output called Xerostomia which is caused by suppressed mucous gland production. We also call this condition Dry-Mouth and it can be the source of both patient discomfort as well as potential dental problems. Some of the effects associated with Dry-Mouth are: altered taste, difficulty chewing and swallowing, increase in cavities, heightened incidents of gum disease and an increase in oral infections. We can mitigate these complications by doing the following:

  • Fluoride at-home treatments to help prevent dental cavities from forming. This may be short-term or a lifetime treatment depending on the location and dosage of radiation used.
  • Education for caries control, including proper oral home care.
  • Long term Xerostomia (Dry-Mouth) treatment/control using various products or strategies to help stimulate saliva flow.
  • Nutritional guidance.

Uncontrolled Gum Disease (Periodontitis)

In some cases, periodontal disease becomes an issue for the recovering cancer patient. This is largely a result of immuno-suppression related to the drugs being used and causes a drop in the patient’s ability to fight off disease. In the mouth, this presents as gum disease. We can help control these effects by doing the following:

  • Heightened periodontal maintenance and frequency of cleanings
  • Repeated patient education