Proper Dental Care Plays an Important Role in Oral Cancer Treatment & Screening
A diagnosis of cancer requires a fundamental shift in how dental patients are treated. Specifically, head and neck cancers require very sophisticated treatment plans to manage patients through this tumultuous time.
Many patients have a good understanding of the treatment for their specific cancer but are unaware that their dental needs can have a profound impact on their cancer treatment and its outcome.
Our patients usually have questions regarding cancer and dentistry, such as:
- Regarding my oral health, what can I do before cancer treatment to set myself up for success?
- Is there anything that can be done during treatment that would be beneficial?
- I’ve made it through cancer treatment, now what?
To set a patient up for success requires a proactive approach to dentistry. In essence, all potential dental problems that could occur during and after cancer treatment need to be eliminated as soon as possible, and an aggressive, preventative line of attack initiated to stop further dental issues from arising. Understandably, your treating cancer team wants to move quickly to begin treatment. Because of this, time is of the essence to rectify outstanding dental issues before the start of cancer treatment.
During cancer treatment, if emergency dental treatment is required, a patient’s immune system needs to be evaluated to ensure safety. Working in tandem with your cancer team, we can provide safe services with special attention to your delicate immune system.
After cancer treatment is complete, a sigh of relief is well warranted, but issues and complications can still arise from dental treatment needs.
At 58 Dental, we remain vigilant and continue to provide patients with frequent monitoring and aggressive, proactive prevention. In short, it is best to take care of current and future dental needs before cancer treatment and do everything possible to prevent issues from arising in the future.
Like most forms of cancer, oral cancer treatment is difficult and can result in severe side effects in its later stages.
The key to beating oral cancer is prevention and early detection. Not only are regular dental checkups essential for maintaining your oral health, but they are also the leading method for the early detection of oral cancer. An oral cancer screening from an experienced dentist that results in the early detection of oral cancer can significantly reduce the severity of the required treatment, and in many cases, prevent the need for serious surgeries and the loss of mouth functions.
Spotting the early warning signs and instructing patients to receive a cancer screening is the most important step in the fight against oral cancer. Awareness is the first step to oral cancer prevention!
If any of the following symptoms last for more than two weeks, schedule a dental screening immediately:
- Persistent sores or irritation
- Red or white patches on the gums or tongue
- Numbness or pain in the mouth or lips
- A noticeable rough spot or lump
- A small eroded area in the mouth
- Difficulty chewing, moving your tongue, or speaking
- A persistent sore throat or the feeling of a lump in your throat
An oral cancer screening typically includes a thorough examination of your lips, cheek lining, gums, tongue, and the floor and roof of the mouth. In some cases, the dentist may also feel your neck and jawline for any lumps or abnormalities.
Dentists Can Help Reduce the Negative Side Effects of Chemotherapy
Radiation treatment for oral cancer can cause a range of complications in the mouth, throat, and jaw. In some cases, radiation treatments can result in persistent sores, making it difficult to eat and swallow. Additionally, chemotherapy can result in the loss of salivary function, which can result in tooth decay, increased mouth bacteria and the breakdown of enamel.
A dentist who is well-versed in the effects of both oral cancer, as well as the side effects of chemotherapy and oral cancer treatments can significantly improve the quality of life of a cancer patient. Not only can they reduce the severity of chemotherapy side effects, but by identifying oral cancer at its earliest stages, they can save your life.
If you suspect you have oral cancer, or have risk factors such as tobacco use, regular alcohol consumption, and HPV infection, contact the team at 58 Dental today to schedule an oral cancer screening. One visit could save your life.