Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women. In the U.S. 1 out of 8 women and 1 out of 1,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
Did you know that there is a link between oral health and breast cancer? According to research conducted at the University of Buffalo, women with gum disease – especially those who smoke – may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer.
Furthermore, many breast cancer survivors experience oral health complications caused by side effects from treatment. It is possible to prevent or manage some of these oral health side effects by taking extra good care of the mouth, teeth and gums and staying on course with professional dental care before and during treatment.
These Breast cancer treatments can cause oral side effects: Chemotherapy; Radiation therapy; Stem cell transplants; Bisphosphonates; Pain medications; Anti-depressants/antianxiety medications and other prescription supplements and other natural remedies.
The results of these side effects may cause: Dysgeusia - metallic, salty, foul or rancid taste sensation; Xerostomia - dryness of the mouth or thickened saliva; Stomatitis - mouth sores & ulcers; Oral mucositis - inflammation & ulcers of gums tongue & mouth tissues; Dysphagia - difficulty or discomfort swallowing; Dental caries - cavities; Infections of the mouth and/or throat; Peripheral painful traumatic trigeminal neurapathy - phantom toothache; Trismus - lockjaw; Candida infection osteonercrosis - oral thrush or yeast infection; Osteonecrosis - jaw bone cell breakdown.
Take action for your oral health before and during treatement:
Talk to your dentist about your diagnosis as soon as possible. You may need to schedule a dental appointment prior to beginning treatment, especially if you haven't had a check up recently.
Undergo any dental procedures you may need before treatment starts. You do not want the body's immune system compromised in any way.
Allow time to heal from any dental treatment before beginning cancer treatment. Your dentist can recommend how much healing time you need between dental procedures and receiving cancer treatments.
Connect your dentist and physicians. Your dentist should be aware of your treatment plan to better serve your needs, and your cancer care team should know how the treatment impacts your mouth.
Consider palliative care specialists for ongoing oral side effects and complications. Ask your doctor for a referral if needed.
By keeping both your physician/cancer care team and your dentist aware of your condition, your treatments can be more effective.