It is well-known that patients undergoing chemotherapy lose their hair as a result of the therapy affecting normal cells as well as cancer cells. However, chemotherapy also affects oral health. Not only does it reduce saliva production and change the taste of food, but it also weakens the body's ability to fight off infection.
Chemotherapy Leads to Tooth Decay
This is both painful and destructive as it can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Under normal circumstances, the saliva in your mouth neutralises acids produced by foods and bacteria and also kills tooth decay-causing bacteria. However, because chemotherapy causes xerostomia, or dry mouth, these bacteria are able to run rampant on your teeth and gums.
Once your therapy is over, you are then faced with a new threat to your health—tooth decay, gum disease and oral infections. Fortunately, if you and your dentist work together, you can repair your damaged teeth and gums and save your smile before it is too late.
Visit a Dental Hygienist or Periodontist
First of all, you need to address any issues with your gums. If the chemotherapy led to gum disease, then a periodontist or hygienist can help you to get it under control. They will do this by cleaning the gum pockets around your teeth to remove bacteria and tartar.
Only once your gums are healthy, a dentist will treat your teeth. Unhealthy gums cause the periodontal ligaments, as well as bone, that hold your teeth in place to weaken, loosening your teeth. Therefore, it is important that any gum disease is treated first.
Dental Crowns for Broken Teeth
When teeth are broken, dental crowns can be fitted over them to protect the remaining tooth structure and allow you to use those teeth to eat, speak and smile. If teeth are broken all the way up to the gumline, the dentist can expose more of the tooth by removing some of the gum tissue in a process called crown lengthening. They can then insert a post into the tooth's root canal before attaching the dental crown.
Veneers and Composite Bonding for Minor Damage
If your teeth are only slightly damaged, then you can opt for some cosmetic dentistry, such as porcelain veneers or composite bonding. Porcelain veneers are thin porcelain shells designed to fit over the surface of a tooth to hide imperfections. Composite bonding on the other hand, starts off as a paste that can be used to cover chips, cracks, stains or restore broken teeth.
Your options are many but before you can repair your teeth, you must ensure that your gums are healthy and strong.