Oral hygiene is important for everyone for maintaining good dental health, but for someone living with
cancer, like mesothelioma, that hygiene becomes even more important. Mesothelioma is a devastating
cancer of the tissue lining the lungs and is caused by exposure to asbestos. Dental complications are
common in these patients, which can cause added discomfort and pain. Practicing good oral hygiene
help patients prevent these uncomfortable complications.What Cancer and its Treatment Does to Dental Health
Cancer can impact the mouth and dental health
, but it is treatment for cancers like mesothelioma that
really have a detrimental impact. Chemotherapy, for instance, can cause mouth pain, dry mouth that
can lead to infections, blooding in the gums, difficulty eating, and a condition called oral mucositis,
inflamed and painful sores in the mouth. Radiation therapy may also cause dental complications,
including many of the same caused by chemotherapy, but also by increasing the risk of cavities and
See the Dentist Before Treatment
If you are facing chemotherapy or any other treatment for mesothelioma, it is important to see your
dentist in advance. A dentist can check for any existing problems and treat you before beginning
treatment so the issues don’t get worse. You will also get good advice on how to care for your teeth and
mouth as you go through treatment. Going into chemotherapy or radiation in good dental health sets
you up for a better outcome and a lower risk for complications.
Oral Hygiene During and After Treatment
Even if you have excellent oral health before starting mesothelioma treatments, you still need to
practice good oral hygiene to maintain that good health. Here are some things you can do to keep your
mouth healthy and happy:
- Brush and floss regularly, but gently. It is important to keep up with regular brushing and flossing, but your mouth may be more sensitive during treatment. Use a softer toothbrush and be careful about flossing. If flossing causes too much pain or bleeding, stop for a while or avoid the most sensitive areas of your mouth.
- Eat softer foods. You are likely to have some degree of mouth pain while undergoing treatment, so eat foods that are easier on your teeth and gums. Avoid any foods that are irritating, including spicy, acidic, or very hot foods.
- Add moisture. Dry mouth is very common with chemotherapy and it can be uncomfortable and even cause infections. While your salivary glands are temporarily out of service, keep your mouth moist by sipping on water throughout the day. You can also chew sugarless gum or suck on ice to add moisture. Take sips of water between bites of food when you eat.
- Don’t use mouthwash. It may be tempting to use mouthwash to freshen your breath or as a way to try to prevent infections, but it isn’t necessary and may cause more irritation and damage due to the alcohol content.
- Speak up about issues. As soon as you experience any mouth or dental problems during treatment, tell your doctor and your dentist. The earlier you report any issues the better able your medical and dental team will be able to help you. Don’t let dental problems get really bad; you shouldn’t have to suffer with terrible pain or discomfort.
Oral hygiene is always important, but as a mesothelioma patient going through chemotherapy your
dental health may be compromised, and good hygiene practices suddenly become so much more important.
Don’t let dental health slide. Talk to your doctors and your dentist about oral health before, during, and after treatment so you get the best care.