DISCLOSURE: Noelle Copeland RDH is an Oral Care Specialist and Dental Consultant who provides content for Brilliant Oral Care and Baby Buddy.
Cancer is the "One Thing" that shuts down the conversation in a room immediately. The air feels heavier all of a sudden as your mind begins to search for the right words to say to someone who has just shared "The News" with you. As a professional who has seen patients clinically for 25 years, I have experienced this type of "room shift" more times than anyone ever should, professionally and personally.
Me:Let's first go over your medical history today, and then I will take your blood pressure before we start. Have there been any changes to your health since you were last here to see me?
Patient: Actually, Yes! A few months ago, a lesion was noted at my annual appointment, and to make a long story short; I have breast cancer. I have a surgery scheduled, then I start chemotherapy, and when that's finished, I do radiation too. So I need help preparing for this.
Cancer therapy is prescribed depending on the type, the stage, and the patient's personal history. The circumstances will help determine how aggressive or expansive treatment will be: therapy usually encompasses more than one treatment. I've had patients on active chemotherapy who maintained their regular oral care appointments by driving themselves to see me. Additionally, I've also had patients so sick they were either hospitalized or bedridden with full-time home help. There is no one-size-fits-all for patients with breast cancer. I do know that.
You can see how complex treatment can get. Multiple rounds of chemo, multiple surgeries, in combination with radiation and any hormonal therapies, that's a lot, and it affects the overall function of the body, including the mouth. Not only is the body's microbiome disrupted and often destroyed, so is the oral microbiome. Side effects happen when the treatment being administered damages healthy cells, tissues, or bodily functions. These effects can be mild to severe. Searching for Gastrologists near me then you have a right place
*NOTE: Chemotherapy can make saliva thicker, causing dry mouth, usually temporary. Clearing up 2 to 8 weeks after the treatment ends.
*NOTE: Radiation to the head, neck, or face can cause dry mouth. This is especially true if radiation was directed at the salivary glands.
*NOTE: Drugs like antidepressants, pain medicine, diuretics are often utilized during cancer therapy and cause dry mouth.
Some medications carry higher oral care risks than others; specifically, bone-modifying drugs are of particular concern. Bisphosphonates and other drugs are sometimes used to reduce the spread of cancer cells to the bone. These drugs are also used to treat breast cancer that has spread to the bone. Another use if tor to treat osteoporosis in breast cancer survivors.
A severe side effect of these medications is medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw, which causes weakening and loss of bone in the jaw. This can lead to pain, infection, loose teeth, and exposed bone around the jaw. To lower your risk of medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw, visit a dentist before and during cancer treatment, mainly if that treatment includes bone-modifying drugs.
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