Posted on: 14 December 2016
If you have thyroid cancer, it's important to pay attention to your dental health before, during, and after your cancer treatments. Radiation therapy and radioactive iodine treatment can significantly impact your oral health. Although some conditions are irreversible, there are steps you can take throughout the different stages of your cancer treatment to help prevent or minimize some of the side effects that may affect your oral health. Your dentist, endocrinologist, and oncologist can advise you on how to maintain good oral health during and after therapy.
Prior to Cancer Treatment
Before starting treatment, see your family dentist for a thorough dental exam. Poor oral health can actually reduce the success of your cancer treatments and/or put you at risk for more complications. Your dentist may order saliva testing to monitor your saliva for changes during and following treatment.
If you have gum disease or another major dental problem and time allows, try to get dental treatment before you begin radiation or radioactive iodine therapy for your thyroid cancer. Any signs or causes of oral infections should be eliminated beforehand to minimize the risk of systemic infections.
At the Start of Cancer Treatment
Once you begin treatment, your doctor may recommend chewing sugar-free gum to increase salivary flow and help limit damage to your salivary glands that can occur with radiation or radioactive iodine treatment. He or she will also advise you on the importance of maintaining an adequate fluid intake, pointing out the importance of drinking lots of water and other clear liquids at room temperature and avoiding beverages that contain caffeine.
If you notice that foods and beverages begin to taste differently, stop using mouthwashes and toothpastes that contain whitening ingredients, phenol, or alcohol. Instead, purchase oral care products that don't contain these ingredients. You can also brush your teeth with baking soda and rinse your mouth with a solution of water and baking soda. Whatever option you choose, continue to brush and floss your teeth daily as you normally would.
During Cancer Treatment
Thyroid cancer treatment can cause mucositis—painful inflammation inside the mouth—and mouth ulcers. Have your dentist examine any mouth sores that appear to make sure they are from inflammation and not a sign of an infection, as sometimes viral, bacterial, and yeast infections may occur. Your dentist or doctor will treat any mouth infections to prevent the infection from entering your bloodstream.
Treatment of thyroid cancer can also lead to tooth decay from changes in your saliva that cause an increase in bad bacteria and decrease in good bacteria, making you more susceptible to tooth decay.
Some cancer treatments also cause low platelet levels, which can cause your gums to bleed. If bleeding occurs, promptly report it to your family dentist or other professional on your cancer treatment team. For more information, talk to a dentist like Olson, Brant N DDS PA.Share