While chemotherapy is one of the best treatments for cancer, it's also known for its numerous side effects. The chemotherapy drugs used to treat the disease are meant to kill cancerous cells, but they also may harm normal ones—including the cells in your mouth. Common dental issues during chemotherapy treatment include gum pain, mouth dryness, and tongue swelling. And, on top of painful and uncomfortable side effects, the treatment can also cause aesthetic troubles. The increased risk of tooth discolouration and yellow staining may seem like a minor price to pay, but many people battling cancer find these issues troubling. If you're one of them, or if you're about to undergo chemotherapy treatment, here are a few ways to keep your teeth looking healthy and white.
Keep Your Mouth Moist
The first thing you need to pay extra attention to is keeping your mouth moist at all times. The dry mouth many chemotherapy patients experience isn't just uncomfortable; it can also lead to tooth discoloration. This occurs because you don't have enough saliva to wash away food particles, leaving your teeth vulnerable to plaque growth and decay. So, while undergoing treatment, make sure you drink a lot of water. Sucking on sugar-free candy can also help stimulate saliva production. If you're still having dry mouth troubles after trying these tips, ask your dentist about trying a saliva substitute.
Adapt Your Routine If Necessary
If you begin experiencing gum pain during chemotherapy treatment, you may be tempted to avoid brushing your teeth. After all, toothbrush bristles can aggravate gums that are already sore. However, neglecting your oral hygiene routine will put you at risk of greater pain from tooth decay, and it can also lead to yellowing. Instead of skipping out on tooth brushing when your gums get sore, try adapting your routine to suit your sensitivity. Switching to an extra-soft toothbrush with rounded bristles and brushing with gentle circular motions can both be a big help in reducing gum pain, allowing you to keep your teeth nice and white.
Consider Teeth Whitening
While the aforementioned tips will go a long way in helping to keep your smile white and gleaming, chemotherapy affects all patients differently. As such, some people may need more intervention to keep their teeth white. If you still find your teeth discolouring despite keeping up with your oral hygiene, consider a teeth whitening procedure. A good dentist will be able to recommend whitening options that are safe to try during your cancer treatment, as well as provide specialised advice to keep your teeth healthy overall.