Cancer patients have enough to worry about that adding their oral health onto their list of concerns seems unfair. However, the truth remains that patients being treated with chemotherapy are at greater risk for dental problems. Cancer patients must be careful to practice good hygiene and focus on protecting their oral health during treatment.
Why does chemotherapy increase your dental risks?
The process of chemotherapy involves sending toxic chemicals into the body to kill cancer cells. Treatment is hard on the body, often causing problems with hair growth, digestion, and bone marrow. The immune system is compromised, making it important for patients to take precautions to protect the body from other illnesses.
What can happen to your mouth?
Chemotherapy treatment makes the body susceptible to infection and weakens the bones, including the jaws and teeth. Weakened teeth are at greater risk for decay, and are often unable to fight off dangerous bacteria. Infection is able to take hold and spread quickly, providing the ability to damage your oral health much faster and more seriously than people who are not undergoing chemotherapy.
How can you prevent problems?
There are some measures patients can take to protect their oral health during treatment. Brush regularly with dentist-recommended toothpaste and a soft toothbrush. Also remember to floss daily. Use an antibacterial mouth was to kill germs and clean the mouth. Avoid products that decrease the production of saliva, which helps to wash the mouth and eliminate bacteria. Chemotherapy treatment doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your oral health as long as you pay attention to keeping your mouth healthy.
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Also called edentulism, tooth loss is defined as having one or more teeth fall out or removed because of trauma, decay, or gum disease. Most people associate tooth loss with the elderly, but an estimated 27 percent of individuals have lost one tooth by age 21. Missing teeth can compromise your oral health, limit social interactions, and impact your ability to speak.
Tooth Loss at Any Age
At different points in their lives, people are susceptible to tooth loss.
As kids become more active, they risk tooth loss from trauma or injury, especially in sports activities. Most dentists recommend a mouth guard to protect patients from harm when they play sports such as basketball, football, soccer, skateboarding, and other such endeavors.
Approximately three out of four adults have some level of gum disease, but many individuals may not realize there is a problem. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults in this country, but proper oral hygiene can ensure that you enjoy a complete smile throughout your lifetime. If you notice bleeding or swollen gums, contact your dentist right away because these symptoms can be the initial signs of periodontal disease.
Dry mouth, older restorations, chronic health concerns, and gum disease can increase the chances of tooth loss for the elderly. Talk with your dentist about preventive measures such as more frequent visits to the dentist, electronic toothbrushes, and special rinses.
What You Can Do
One of the ways you can preserve your smile is to practice adequate home care and make dental checkups a priority. Brushing and flossing keep teeth and gums healthy on a daily basis. Regular exams allow you to have professional cleanings and they enable the dentist to check for problems like decay and gum disease, which contribute to tooth loss. If you have any issues, the dentist can recommend treatment to prevent further damage and restore your oral health.
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Whether or not it’s good for your teeth, chewing gum is a popular habit. The encouraging news is that the American Dental Association (ADA) has begun recognizing certain gums with the ADA Seal that some are scientifically proven to protect your teeth. Let’s learn exactly what gum might mean for your teeth.
Chewing increases the amount of saliva in your mouth, which helps to neutralize and rinse away damaging acids in your mouth. More saliva also means more calcium and phosphate are distributed in your mouth, which strengthen your tooth enamel. Studies show that 20 minutes of chewing sugarless gum after meals can help prevent tooth decay.
The only gums that have earned the ADA Seal are sugarless, and have proven with scientific evidence that they effectively reduce acids, promote remineralization of enamel, or reduce cavities or gingivitis. The gum also must be safe for oral tissues. A chewing gum package that displays the ADA Seal has undergone stringent requirements for proving that the information is true, so you can trust packaging claims for safety and effectiveness.
One other thing to consider is choosing sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol. It has been shown to help prevent tooth decay and cavities, because it stops bacteria from being able to stick to your teeth. Fewer bacteria that cause decay are able to survive on the surfaces of your teeth.
Don’t be confused about the role chewing gum can play in your dental health, because it doesn’t take the place of brushing and flossing. You still should brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and use dental floss every day too.
In addition, artificial sweeteners have linked to cancer in medical studies done around the world. Make sure to check the packaging ingredients before purchasing your gum.
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Just like you’ve probably heard with any type of cancer, it’s important to catch oral cancer early. Recent studies show that when it is found in the late stages, survival rate drops to 59 percent. To have better chances for survival, diagnosis and treatment in the early stages makes a huge difference. Therefore, you should not hesitate to have your dentist perform an oral cancer screening on you.
At many dental offices, oral cancer screenings are considered routine procedure. Your dentist will check inside your mouth for mouth sores or red or white patches. No need to panic if you have a mouth sore, because the majority of them are not cancerous. You can’t tell which are and which aren’t just by looking however, so your dentist may advise further testing to determine the cause of your sore. A biopsy may be performed to test the cells. Also during your oral examination, your dentist will feel the tissues inside your mouth for lumps or other abnormalities.
Some dentists perform additional tests to help identify oral cancer. Sometimes, something like ViziLite Plus will be used. It is a quick and pain-free examination that provides your dentist a good way to locate any oral abnormalities at the earliest stage possible. The examination employs low intensity light to expose abnormal cells, which glow under the special light. This technology allows dentists to quickly and effectively discover oral cancer before there is any other way to detect it.
Oral cancer screenings are something that all patients should take advantage of, but it is especially important for those with high risk factors. The most common risk factors for oral cancer include tobacco use, family history, excessive sun exposure, heavy alcohol use, and previous cancer diagnosis. Decreasing your areas of risk as much as possible will be helpful in avoiding oral cancer.
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No matter what you age, seeing the dentist is necessary to maintain good oral health. All kinds of dental specialists are available to help you with any problem that might arise. Babies, children, teenagers, adults, and seniors all face unique challenges when it comes to their oral health.
Babies through older children need preventative maintenance for optimum oral health. Many parents choose to take their children to pediatric dentists who specialize in kids ages 0 through 18. Children should begin seeing a dentist by their first birthday. Orthodontists also treat children, with the suggested age of 7 as the first visit to this specialist for early intervention. If problems exist, this allows them to be caught and treated early to avoid worse issues later.
It is not uncommon for adolescents to require teeth straightening and jaw alignment correction. Today there are many options for braces and appliances that cater to this age group. Oral surgery is often needed for adolescents to remove teeth in overcrowded mouths, or to extract wisdom teeth that erupt during adolescence. By this age, tooth discoloration or chips or uneven lines may already be present. Cosmetic dentistry options can help improve your teen’s smile.
By adulthood, dental checkups every six months should be a habit. Every dental specialization area may benefit adults, including general dentistry, cosmetic, oral surgery, and endodontics. This is the age group who most often needs crowns, root canals, and teeth whitening. With the popularity of invisible braces on the rise, many adults also seek orthodontic treatment.
Aging brings about more cases of lost teeth and root canals. Bridges, dentures, and implants are common treatments in the senior age group. Maintaining regular checkups and ensuring good hygiene at home are important.
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Stinky breath is embarrassing for you, and downright unpleasant for those around you. That’s why there are so many products on the market that focus on this annoying problem. Luckily there are some home remedies you can use to combat mouth odors. Try some of these to see if they work for you to keep your breath clean and fresh.
Your first line of defense is to get rid of food particles and bacteria lingering in your mouth. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly helps remove the major contributors to stinky breath.
Visiting your dentist every six months allows an examination for decay and disease, and provides a more thorough cleaning than you can accomplish yourself.
There is a large selection of toothpastes available today, many offering combinations of benefits. An example is mint toothpaste with whitening powers that is made to strengthen your teeth and freshen your breath. It’s easy to experiment with various brands and flavors to see which one you like best, and helps solve your mouth odor problem.
You can also use baking soda on your toothbrush, because its abrasive qualities help remove bacteria from your teeth. You can use baking soda once a day by itself or in addition to toothpaste.
Although the breath benefits usually don’t last very long from mints, they still can be effective right before entering a social situation or after eating a strong-smelling food.
Some herbs can fight bad breath. Chewing on spices like fennel, cardamom, and cinnamon sticks can aid your breath for a while. This is a popular remedy in other countries where less man-made options are available.
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Take a drink of your refreshing cold beverage, delve into your favorite flavor of ice cream, or have a sip of the perfect coffee concoction. But then, a hundred miniature daggers stab your teeth!! If this is your experience when eating foods that you used to enjoy, you are suffering with overly sensitive teeth.
Your dentist will be able to determine the reasons behind your tooth sensitivity. Often your enamel is worn, exposing the nerves on your teeth and increasing the sensation of anything that comes into contact with them. There are treatments that should help reduce your discomfort and allow you to eat the foods you like. While waiting to see your dentist, here are some things you can try at home to relieve your sensitivity.
Visit the oral products section of your drugstore, and you will find numerous choices of toothpaste to help reduce sensitivity. Try switching to one of the toothpaste options designed for that purpose, or ask your dentist for further toothpaste recommendations.
Watch what you eat
Certain foods trigger discomfort more than others. For example, acidic foods and spicy items tend to hit the tooth nerves. Extreme temperatures of icy cold or piping hot foods and drinks can also cause pain. Dentists advise that you keep a food diary to notice patterns of foods that cause sensitivity so that you’ll be able to cut down on those items until your teeth have improved.
Brushing your teeth can be painful if your teeth are overly sensitive, but it’s not advisable to discontinue brushing. Instead, look for a toothbrush designed for sensitive teeth and brush as gently as possible. Also, remember to floss even though it can sometimes be uncomfortable.
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If your orthodontist has told you that you need to wear rubber bands as part of your treatment, no need to panic! Many braces patients before you have worn them and lived through it. Maybe if you understand the reasons that rubber bands can help you achieve a beautiful smile, it will be easier for you to wear them faithfully. Let’s learn more about the reasons and benefits of wearing your elastics.
The brackets and wires of your braces align your teeth, but rubber bands are used to move your bite into correct alignment. The tension of the elastic creates pressure on the bracket that it’s attached to, and can correct an overbite or underbite. The phase of treatment to correct your bite is often the longest part of the process, but using rubber bands will hasten the movement of your jaw.
Be sure to follow your orthodontist’s instructions completely. Failing to wear them as directed can lengthen your treatment time and may negatively affect your results. Your full cooperation in wearing the rubber bands will create the best outcome in the least amount of time.
Getting used to rubber bands
It takes a few days to get used to putting in your rubber bands, but after some practice it becomes simple. It’s normal for your teeth and jaws to be sore for the first week or less of wearing elastics, but the best way to decrease that time is to wear them faithfully. If you wear them intermittently, your mouth will be constantly sore because they don’t have a chance to get used to the extra pressure.
Some orthodontists require you to wear rubber bands while eating, and others don’t. Most patients are required to wear the elastics while sleeping. Just make sure you follow your doctor’s treatment plan specific to you. Wear your rubber bands if you play sports, unless you are wearing a mouth guard. Finally, continue to practice good oral hygiene as your orthodontist has instructed.