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Posted by on Nov 13, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

5 Dental Problems Associated With Chemotherapy (And How To Deal With Them)

If you’re about to undergo chemotherapy for treatment of cancer, you should be aware of the possibility of side effects pertaining to your oral health. Some of the more common dental issues experienced during chemotherapy include mouth pain and inflammation, bleeding gums, dry mouth and infection. A change in taste sensation may also occur.

How Chemotherapy Affects Oral Health

Chemotherapy drugs are intended to kill cancer cells in the body. In doing so, the drugs may destroy other “healthy” cells, which makes the patient more susceptible to a host of complications. You may not have thought your cancer treatment could affect your oral health, but it’s not as uncommon as one might think. The following is a list of common issues that may affect your oral health as a result of chemotherapy, along with practical solutions for dealing with them:

1. Oral Pain and Inflammation

Anti-cancer drugs may cause sore gums or dental pain in some patients. This discomfort may be worsened in patients with sensitive teeth. You might ask your dentist about using an anti-sensitivity toothpaste and mouthwash. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water may relieve the discomfort as well.

Your dentist may suggest placing hot or cold compresses on your face to control oral pain. You might want to experiment with both to see which works best for you. Additionally, your dentist may prescribe fluoride treatments.

2. Bleeding Gums

It’s not unusual to experience bleeding gums during or after chemotherapy. This may occur while brushing your teeth or while flossing. Do you know what causes bleeding gums when taking anti-cancer drugs?

Some chemotherapy drugs interfere with the body’s natural blood clotting ability. This means you’re more susceptible to bruising and bleeding. Take these measures to reduce the risk:

  • Don’t pick at your teeth with a dental instrument or toothpick.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.

  • Avoid hard or crunchy foods during your chemotherapy.

  • Refrain from smoking or chewing tobacco

3. Dry Mouth

Certain anti-cancer drugs may interfere with the production of saliva. If you experience temporary dry mouth during chemotherapy, consult your dentist. You can relieve dry mouth by using an over-the-counter oral rinse and toothpaste formulated for this purpose. The “artificial saliva” helps replenish moisture in the mouth.

In addition, be sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Your dentist may also recommend sucking on sugarless hard candies. This may help stimulate the production of saliva.

Dry mouth is often relieved several weeks after chemotherapy ends, when salivary glands return to a normal state.

4. Infection

Chemotherapy suppresses the immune system, thereby making the patient more vulnerable to infection. Patients with poor oral health prior to beginning chemotherapy may have a higher risk for bacterial or fungal infection.

If you experience a dental infection, your dentist may prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse in additional to a course of antibiotics. If the infection is caused by an overgrowth of fungi, an anti-fungal mouthwash may be prescribed.

If you wear dentures, it is essential to keep them immaculately clean and disinfected. Soaking them in a solution of vinegar and water will destroy germs. Alternately, you may soak your dentures in a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide mixture.

5. Temporary Alteration in Taste Buds

Chemotherapy may alter your sensation of taste. Typically, this is a temporary situation that should resolve soon after cancer treatment has ended. In medical terms this condition is known as dysgeusia.

When taste buds become damaged during chemo treatment, you may experience an unpleasant taste in your mouth while eating or throughout the day. In addition, you may not be able to distinguish salty tastes, or sweet from sour.

Ask your dentist or physician if you may benefit from taking zinc sulfate supplements to regain your taste sensation. Increasing your fluid intake may also help to a degree. You should avoid smoking, as this may worsen symptoms.

Inform Your Dentist

Before you begin your chemotherapy, it’s important to visit your dentist to inform him or her about your cancer treatment. Your dentist will be able to monitor your oral health and offer suggestions on how to avoid and treat dental problems. In addition, practicing good dental hygiene, such as brushing and flossing after meals, will help you maintain proper oral health during chemotherapy and for life. For more information, contact a clinic like Knellinger Dental Excellence.

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Posted by on Oct 21, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Use The Tooth Fairy To Help Improve Your Child’s Oral Hygiene

The tooth fairy brings joy and delight to kids all over America and many other parts of the world. While most parents view it as merely a fun fantasy for children, the tooth fairy myth can be wrapped into a larger, more meaningful experience. Proper care of teeth can be a difficult task for children, but savvy parents can use the tooth fairy to help reinforce positive habits. Here are some things you can do:

Create an appropriate back story

While almost every child understands the tooth fairy brings rewards in exchange for baby teeth left under pillows, there is a lot of missing detail in the bigger story. Some parents have created impromptu, family-based traditions to fill in some of the gaps, but most children are never given reasons for why the tooth fairy goes about her nightly rounds.

That provides you with a prime opportunity to create a fantastic back story full of detail. The richer you make the story behind the tooth fairy, the more your children will be enchanted with the wonder and mystery. Ultimately, this fascination can be channeled toward an increased enthusiasm for practicing good oral hygiene. Here are some questions you may want to answer as you craft your family’s tooth fairy tale:

  • Who is the tooth fairy, and where did she come from?
  • Why did the tooth fairy begin to provide rewards in return for teeth?
  • What values are important to the tooth fairy?
  • How does the tooth fairy go about her nightly duties?

As you write, use descriptive language that evokes positive emotional responses in young children. Don’t worry if it isn’t a “perfect” story; a few plot holes here and there will not be noticeable. Also, resist the urge to make your home’s tooth fairy into an overly-moralizing, joyless creature that does not have your child’s interests at heart. While you want your tale to be powerful, kids are going to tune out a tooth fairy account that strikes them as authoritarian.

Provide extra rewards for healthy teeth

Ensuring healthy teeth in your kids is a big part of your home’s tooth fairy experience, so be sure that your children are rewarded more for surrendering healthy teeth than ones that have evidence of decay such as spots or fillings. If you are unsure as to what constitutes a healthy tooth, then spend some time with your family’s dentist or dental hygienist; ask them to provide a quick description of decayed teeth. Certainly don’t expect to become a dentist after a few minutes of conversation, but you can correctly identify big problems much of the time with a little training.

When the tooth fairy rewards your child, be sure to include a written note describing the tooth fairy’s “reaction” to your child’s tooth. If it is a perfectly healthy tooth, use effusive praise and recognition. If it has a suspected spot of decay, then make mention of it, but never castigate the child or use any type of negative language. Much in the same way Santa Claus merely rewards less well-behaved children with fewer presents, then you should be sure to provide a small reward on behalf of the tooth fairy.

Build an ongoing dialog

The tooth fairy is traditionally considered an infrequent visitor to homes, but one of the advantages of creating your own story is that you can “break the rules” and expand her role. Here are some ideas:

  • Make mention of the tooth fairy around brushing and flossing times; keep the conversation positive, and focus on why the tooth fairy is pleased by healthy teeth.
  • Send your child a card from the tooth fairy after they receive a good report at the dentist’s office; include a little extra reward in the card if you wish.
  • Create or purchase a tooth fairy doll that can be prominently located in a place within your home such as your child’s bathroom or the kitchen. The doll can serve as a visible reminder for kids to practice good oral hygiene habits.

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