We know that cancer treatments may impact your hair, your skin, your nails, well, you name it! But, one thing we often forget about is that treatment may also impact our teeth. Perhaps it is odd that we forget about our teeth at this time. But there is no denying, both dentists and patients have discussed how often teeth are forgotten about during treatment. So, let’s chat about our pearly whites for a little bit today. To keep you smile bright there are four simple tips:
1. Call your dentist: it is amazing the number of people who do not let their dentist know that they have cancer. Do yourself a favor and when you are diagnosed, call your dentist. If you are in the throes of treatment, call your dentist. True, they may not be able to do standard cleanings or other dental procedures, but they will be able to give you some guidance on how to care for your teeth through treatments. In fact, many times they can offer a prescription toothpaste that can help protect your teeth should you have dry mouth.
2. Drink your water: I know it seems like drinking your water helps with everything, and well, to an extent it does. As we mentioned, often though treatment your mouth may become very dry, so simply drinking water will help add moisture back into your mouth and body.
3. Use very soft toothbrushes: Make sure you purchase new, very soft toothbrushes. New, because once you start treatments you want to avoid any chance for infection and often bacteria and viruses lurk in our toothbrushes. Very soft because you will find your gums and mouth sore and tender. Because gums easily bleed leading to potential infection, you want to minimize the risk of scratching them by using the soft toothbrushes. In fact, when you are on the phone with your dentist (see point 1) ask whether you can continue to use your automatic toothbrushes. Depending on your sensitivity, you may be advised to avoid that for awhile as well.
4. Avoid whitening products: Your mouth will experience many stresses due to treatment, so don’t make matters worse by using whitening products as well. The chemicals in those products that make your smile bright may hurt your gums and teeth already struggling from treatments. In general, we advise avoiding chemicals as you go through treatment and products for your pearly whites are no different.
With these four simple tips you can take care of your teeth through treatment and still have a radiant smile, despite your cancer.