Cancer Patients Dental Care Holmdel NJ
Dr. Lichtenstein and his staff understand that cancer patients have different needs when it comes to dental care. Whether you are about to begin cancer treatment, are going through it now, or have finished treatment, your dental health needs special attention and qualified care. Dr. Lichtenstein can provide the services that those battling cancer deserve, which in something that not all dentists can do.
Numerous hospitals, medical centers, and individual cancer/oncology practitioners require a written “clean bill of dental health” before a cancer patient’s treatment is initiated. A “cleaned-up mouth” and clearance from a restorative dentist reduces and helps to avoid the problems of mouth abscesses and infections during the course of cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy and radiation can result in “dry mouth”, which can predispose cancer patients to cavities and decay, especially if normal oral hygiene is delayed or neglected. If the roots of the teeth are exposed, they are at greater risk for decay.
Some of the newest forms of chemotherapy the ‘Bisphosphonates’ (IV Aredia and Zometa) can lead to a unique mouth problem known as “BRON” (Bisphosphonate Related Osteo-Necrosis). This means areas of bone in the upper and lower jawbones degenerate and result in non-vital bone (“necrosis”). This necrotic area may not heal normally, or often not at all. This is also known as MRONJ – medication related osteo-necrosis of the jaw.
Oral health changes during cancer treatment
While receiving cancer treatment, some people experience:
- Mouth sores – Certain chemotherapy medications and radiation therapy to the head or neck can cause sores to develop in the mucous membranes that line the mouth, throat and digestive tract. Known as mucositis, this condition can cause pain and infections, making it difficult to swallow, eat and drink.
- Dry mouth – Some cancer treatments can damage the salivary glands, disrupt the flow of saliva or cause dry mouth (xerostomia). In addition to discomfort, xerostomia can lead to infections and tooth decay because saliva helps balance the levels of bacteria in the mouth.
- Sensitive gums – Certain chemotherapy medications can cause the gums to become tender and inflamed.
- Jaw pain – Radiation therapy to the head and neck may cause pain and stiffness in the jaw.
- Taste changes – Some foods and beverages may taste differently than before, especially bitter, sweet or salty items.
How We Can Help
Before your cancer treatment begins, dental care options from Dr. Lichtenstein include a thorough clinical examination (teeth, roots, gums, bone and a head/neck regional soft tissue exam); appropriate x-rays (to uncover hidden problems, decay, or infection), a discussion on the most beneficial oral hygiene regimen, and a treatment plan to address current or potential problems a cancer patient may face.
We can even do a digital panoramic x-ray of your entire mouth with very low radiation. This is very helpful for patients with hyperactive gag reflexes.
Your mouth should be as healthy as possible before starting your cancer treatment. There should not be any gingivitis, periodontal diseases (“gum diseases”), and abscessed or infected teeth. Any deep decay should be treated well before beginning your cancer treatment.
If you are just starting cancer treatment, many dental care management options can be discussed. If you are “in the middle” of treatment, or have finished, there are restorative and oral hygiene options available.
Contact us or visit our office in Holmdel, New Jersey to learn more about what we can do for you, no matter what stage of cancer treatment you are in. We will work with you to take care of your dental health throughout and after your treatment.