Posts for tag: oral cancer
Despite momentous strides in recent years in the fight against cancer, treatments can still disrupt normal life. Both radiation and chemotherapy have side effects that can cause problems in other areas of health—particularly the teeth and gums.
If you or a loved one are undergoing cancer treatment, it's important to get ahead of any potential side effects it may have on dental health. Here are 4 things that can help protect teeth and gums while undergoing cancer treatment.
Get a preliminary dental exam. Before beginning treatment, patients should have their dentist examine their teeth and gums to establish a baseline for current dental health and to treat any problems that may already exist. However, patients should only undergo dental procedures in which the recovery time can be completed before starting radiation or chemotherapy.
Be meticulous about oral hygiene. Undergoing cancer treatment can increase the risks for developing tooth decay or gum disease. That's why it's important that patients thoroughly brush and floss everyday to reduce bacterial plaque buildup that causes disease. Patients should also reduce sugar in their diets, a prime food source for bacteria, and eat “teeth-friendly” foods filled with minerals like calcium and phosphorous to keep teeth strong.
Keep up regular dental visits. The physical toll that results from cancer treatment often makes it difficult to carry on routine activities. Even so, patients should try to keep up regular dental visits during their treatment. Besides the extra disease prevention offered by dental cleanings, the dentist can also monitor for any changes in oral health and provide treatment if appropriate.
Minimize dry mouth. Undergoing cancer treatment can interfere with saliva production and flow. This can lead to chronic dry mouth and, without the full protection of saliva against dental disease, could increase the risk of tooth decay or gum disease. Patients can minimize dry mouth by drinking more water, using saliva boosters and discussing medication alternatives with their doctor.
It may not be possible to fully avoid harm to your oral health during cancer treatment, and some form of dental restoration may be necessary later. But following these guidelines could minimize the damage and make it easier to regain your dental health afterward.
If you would like more information on dental care during cancer treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Health During Cancer Treatment.”
While smoking and drinking alcohol are significant risk factors for oral cancer, you don’t necessarily have to be a heavy drinker or smoker to be considered at-risk for oral cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 25% of individuals who’ve been diagnosed with oral cancer have never touched a cigarette or drank heavily.
Thankfully, you can try lowering your risk factors for oral cancer through regular oral cancer screenings by your dentist at Avenue Dental Group in Menomonee Falls, WI, Dr. Brian Stark, Dr. Thomas J. Dudley, or Dr. Eyad Bittar. You should likewise find out your specific risk factors for oral cancer and work with your dentist to manage or eliminate them.
Lots of individuals who’ve been diagnosed with some form of oral cancer have used or use tobacco. Put simply, you have a higher risk of getting oral cancer the longer you use tobacco in any form. The kind of tobacco you use matters as well. For instance, those who chew tobacco typically develop lip, cheek, or gum cancer, while pip smokers usually develop soft palate or lip cancer. Keep in mind that secondhand smoke increases cancer risk for nontobacco users too.
An estimated 2/3 of individuals who have oral cancer are male. The reasons for this may be that males drink alcohol and smoke tobacco more regularly than females.
Drinking Alcohol AND Smoking
Take note that alcohol on its own isn’t an independent oral cancer risk factor, the ACS states. This means that if you’re a heavy alcohol drinker but do not smoke tobacco, you are most likely not at an elevated risk for oral cancer. However, regular alcohol drinking and tobacco smoking put you at high risk for oral cancer.
Studies have found that diets, like the Mediterranean diet, which incorporate high amounts of veggies and fruits are associated with a reduced risk for developing oral cancer.
Although the average diagnosis age for oral cancer is about 62 years old, this cancer, as with most cancers, could still develop in younger individuals. The risk, however, increases after 50 years of age, peaking about age 60 to 70.
It’s likewise vital to note that unprotected sun exposure, radiation exposure, genetic conditions, immunosuppressants, and past oral or head and neck cancer could increase your odds as well. So make sure to undergo routine oral cancer screenings with your dentist in Menomonee Falls, WI, just to be on the safe side.
For Help Managing Your Oral Cancer Risk, We Can Help
Book a meeting with your dentists here at Avenue Dental Group in Menomonee Falls, WI, Dr. Brian Stark, Dr. Thomas J. Dudley, or Dr. Eyad Bittar, by dialing (262) 251-6555.
Good nutrition is vital for maintaining health and preventing disease, especially for your mouth. A diet rich in whole foods — fresh fruits and vegetables, protein and dairy products — and low in sugar will not only promote strong teeth and gums, but lessen your chances of developing tooth decay or periodontal (gum) disease.
Diet is also a prominent factor in reducing the risk for another serious mouth disease — oral cancer. While oral cancer makes up only 3% of total cancer cases reported annually, the five-year survival rate is a sobering 50%, much lower than for other types of common cancers. While genetics plays a role in your susceptibility to oral cancer, lifestyle choices and practices present the greater risk factors for the disease.
Of these lifestyle factors, refraining from tobacco products, moderating your alcohol consumption and avoiding risky sexual behavior are of primary importance in reducing your cancer risk. With that said, you should also take into account the foods that are part of your daily diet — both what you should and shouldn’t eat. As an example of the latter, some foods contain a class of chemicals known as nitrosamines that are carcinogenic (cancer-causing). One such chemical, nitrite, is used as a preservative in meats like bacon or ham, and may also be found in beer, and seafood products.
On the positive side, your diet should be rich in foods that supply antioxidants, substances that protect the body’s cells from damaging, unstable molecules known as free radicals. The best sources for antioxidants (more so than dietary supplements) are plant foods rich in fiber and vitamins C and E. Eating more of these may also reduce your intake of nitrates, animal fat and saturated fat.
Adopting a moderate, nutritious diet, along with exercise, can have a huge positive impact on your general health and quality of life. Along with other lifestyle changes, better dietary choices can also help ensure a healthy mouth and reduce your risk of oral cancer.
If you would like more information on the role of nutrition in reducing your risk of oral cancer, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Diet and Prevention of Oral Cancer.”