Rehabilitation after oral cancer
For many people, oral cancer is a disease that can affect anyone and is getting more and more prevalent. However, there are many obstacles with treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, and while it saves lives, there are a few things that you should know about that you should talk to your Bothell dentist about before you go in. It will also help you figure out the treatment considerations for those that have already gotten therapy for this.
The first big side effect of this is when you get radiation therapy in the head and neck. That is xerostomia, which can be a problem for restorative Bothell dentists. This results in a reduction of the saliva in the mouth, and a chance in the saliva type produced. Often, many patients that have gotten these high-dosage therapies to the head and neck also notice that their saliva is thick and ropy, which means that the protective elements aren’t there.
The extent of this is linked to the dosage of the radiation received, as well as the location of the field where you get radiation. Saliva is a natural buffer in the mouth, and if you don’t have this, it doesn’t have a means to lubricate the teeth and the other oral tissues. It also leaves the teeth at risk to dental decay. Typically, if one has this, they might notice taste alternations, swallowing difficulties, and difficulty speaking. Typically, a way to help treat this is to have a sodium fluoride toothpaste in order to help with this.
Next is trismus, which is a reduced opening of the jaw. Typically, this can happen after radiation therapy, and it does vary based on the location and dosage, along with the age of the person and the medical history. Typically, this can also result from surgical resections, and it can be debilitating if it results in a lessened ability to chew food.
Typically, the best way to treat this is by restorative dentistry, but it is very difficult in many, especially if they can’t eat and speak. You might have to start doing jaw exercises that encourage the opening of the mouth, but they should be reviewed with others before they do this. You might need to see a physical therapist or a speech pathologist to help as well with preventing trismus. There are various at-home jaw exercises that you could do, just make sure that you do find someone before you begin this.
Finally, there are ways to fight dry mouth, or xerostomia, which is a dryness when you don’t get enough saliva in the mouth. This can be a chronic condition, and if you have chemotherapy or radiation damage, it can even destroy the salivary glands. Sometimes it disappears, but it can also have a detrimental effect on oral health. But there are a few things that you can do to help with this.
The first is to increase the amount of water you take in. Having water or sucking on ice can help stimulate this and give your temporary relief.
Regular brushing and flossing helps with this as well. It can help allay this, and often, if you compound this with a minty toothpaste, it will help stimulate the salivary glands and help to relive those symptoms.
There are also over-the-counter remedies such as lozenges and various sprays that contain lubricants that coat and soothe the mouth. These are great to combat dry mouth at night especially. You should consult your doctor before you take any of these.
Getting oral cancer out of the mouth is very important. Cancer isn’t good, and it’s never fun, but it definitely is important that you take the time to check out the various conditions that could come about. You should make sure that you talk to your doctor about this, and you definitely will be prepared for whatever might come about. You should also consult with all of your healthcare providers as well, so that if you do have to take various medicines, you can prevent any bad side effects that might become worse with time. It’s never fun, but your oral health is at stake if you don’t otherwise.