Recently I attended a seminar reviewing the latest advances in dental care required during radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.

The complications that can occur if you have not attended to your dental health prior to treatment commencing, can be life changing. Side effects of chemotherapy tend to last the duration of treatment and then resolve. Side effects of radiotherapy however can last for the duration of treatment and sometimes for a lifetime.  But with good dental treatment and excellent oral health, mostly you can avoid oral complications altogether.

Complications vary depending on the location and intensity of treatment.  These can include Oral Mucositis as the most common. It presents as inflammation and redness developing into ulcerations which can be painful. Fungal infections and bacterial infections can intensify the mucositis.  Xerostomia or a decrease or loss of saliva flow can make it difficult to speak, eat and swallow and can predispose to dental cavities. There can be difficulty in opening the jaw and changes in taste.

We have developed simple but effective preventative dental daily routines that can help you manage, control and often avoid the above complications. Remember to start your dental treatment as early as possible. Any extractions, root canals or fillings must be completed at least 14 days prior to radiotherapy or chemotherapy commencing so proper healing can occur. We are supported by new Biotene products that will aid you in your daily routine.

Preventative dental care is affordable and can help you avoid some serious dental complications. Call today if you have any question and need a helping hand.

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Dry Mouth and Antidepressants

There are many medications that will decrease your saliva flow. Some of the more common ones include antihypertensives (for high blood pressure), antidepressants and antihistamines(commonly for allergies). It has been found that these medications can stop the salivary glands producing saliva – sometimes as much as 50-60% less.

Saliva is critical to maintaining a healthy re-mineralising environment protecting the teeth and lubricating the soft tissues of the mouth. When this healthy balance is disrupted we start to see holes appearing in the teeth, a thinning of enamel and complaints of dry mouth and lips with difficulty sometimes even eating and swallowing.

So with the ever increasing use of these medications what can you do to help?

  • Drink plenty of water – try for 6-8 glasses per day
  • Chew sugarless gum and celery as it has a high water content
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, and avoid cigarettes
  • Avoid excessive tea and coffee
  • Avoid alcohol-containing mouthwashes.
  • Avoid acidic beverages (e.g. wine, fruit juices, soft drinks, sports drinks) and, if you must have, limit consumption to meal times.
  • Limit sugar intake and avoid sugary snacks.
  • Ensure good oral hygiene and regular dental checks.

If you have a very dry mouth try bicarbonate mouthwashes. A bicarbonate mouthwash can be made up by adding approximately half a teaspoon of bicarbonate powder to a glass of warm water. Rinse with mouthwash on waking and at any time during the day

Use remineralising products such as tooth mousse without rinsing off the teeth after use.

Unfortunately when we have a dry mouth we tend to reach for sugary sweets to suck on and acidic sugary beverages to relieve the symptoms which further increases the risk of dental cavities.

This list may not seem very exciting, limiting some of life’s daily joys (ie:coffee). Some maybe able to conquer all of it, but most should be able to achieve number 1. So get started today and protect your most valuable asset – your teeth.

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