Dentists and the American Dental Association are among the world’s leading advocates of healthy oral care. To that end, the ADA publishes Mouth Healthy, an internet site that provides a slew of information, ranging from finding dentists to tips on nutrition, how dental health correlates to different stages of life, and FAQs about oral hygiene and best dentist practices.
A recent story at Mouth Healthy covers the important topic of “How Cancer Affects Dental Health.” According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than one-third of all cancer patients at some point develop complications that affect their mouths. Dry mouth is one of those side effects, along with infection, sensitive gums, mouth sores and jaw pain.
Of course, dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, results from a lack of saliva which brings its own set of problems. Saliva is your primary, first-line defense against tooth decay and is the mouth’s primary protection against a variety of diseases brought on by the bacteria that occurs in the mouth.
According to the report in Mouth Healthy, cancer and its accompanying treatments like chemotherapy weaken your immune system. So, if your mouth is not healthy before those treatments start, you will be even more susceptible to infections. If the infection becomes serious enough, it can interfere with your cancer treatment.
For Mouth Healthy’s three-step cancer action plan, and for its full report, click here.