Am I At Risk Of Dental Decay
Background/Statistics of oral complications during cancer treatment
Data complied by the National Cancer Institute suggests that chemotherapy, hormone therapy and radiation therapy (either alone or combined) can effect your oral health significantly:
• 95% of patients may experience dry mouth (xerostomia)
• 80% of patients may experience mouth sores/ulcers (oral mucositis)
• 76% of patients may experience a taste dysfunction (dysgeusia)
• 50% of patients may experience oral viral infections
• 39% of patients may experience oral fungal infections
• 37% of patients may experience dental decay
• 30% of patients may experience difficulty opening and closing their jaw (trismus)
Each of these complications is not just an issue of your comfort, but they also have the potential for well-documented flow effects such as systemic infection, malnutrition and dehydration.
I have periodontal disease or tooth decay… other than the pain of oral complications, what are the risks to me during my cancer treatment?
Tooth Decay (Periodontal)
Other than pain and discomfort, oral infections in a cancer patient can be VERY serious, potentially even life-theatening.
There are many individuals who experience serious whole body infections whilst undergoing cancer treatment. Research suggests that up to 54% of oncology patient deaths from infection begin with organisms from the mouth.
As you can see in the images above, the gums and the teeth have blood circulating through them. When the teeth and gums become infected, as is the case with periodontal disease or tooth decay, harmful bacteria can enter the blood stream.
In an individual who has a compromised immune system, their capacity to fight this infection is limited and the infection can then affect the entire body. This is because the infected blood circulates throughout our entire body, travelling through and impacting every organ.
Once the infection has become systemic (affecting the whole body) it becomes much more difficult to manage and can require hospitalisation. At this point there is the potential for oncology treatments to be delayed or discontinued… this can directly affect survivorship.
Dentimed can help reduce the risk of systemic infection by working with you to eradicate any existing or potential oral diseases.