How Cancer Treatment Affects Your Mouth


As we head into the month of October, we tend to see pink ribbons everywhere in support of breast cancer research and breast cancer patients. Cancer is one of those scary words nobody wants to hear, and it can cause feelings of uncertainness and weariness of what treatment will bring. While there are sure to be many thoughts racing through your mind following any cancer diagnosis, there’s one thing you may not immediately think of — seeing your dentist in Reno. However, this visit, and follow up visits, can actually help make cancer treatment more successful. 



The cancer treatment we tend to be most familiar with is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy has been used for many years and can help kill cancer cells. However, it certainly doesn’t come without side effects. While these side effects can affect any area of the body, there are certain ones that directly affect the mouth. Sometimes these side effects are so serious that your medical team may decide to temporarily stop treatment until the side effects are resolved. To help avoid this, it’s important to see your dentist in Reno prior to starting chemotherapy. 

Chemotherapy and Oral Health

As we’ve mentioned, chemotherapy can be really effective at killing cancer cells. But it can also harm healthy cells in the process, including cells in the mouth. This damage can affect any part of your mouth from your teeth to the soft tissues such as your gums and the glands that create saliva. Some common oral health side effects of chemotherapy include: 

  • Pain with eating or talking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Sores or ulcers
  • Peeling, burning tongue
  • Infection

These side effects can happen to anyone, and they do tend to vary from person to person. Make sure you talk with your cancer treatment team as well as your dentist in Reno during treatment so any side effects are caught and treated early. If they’re not, some infections or side effects can be so severe they’ll cause a delay or pause in your cancer treatment. 

The Importance of Regular Dentistry

Seeing your dentist every six months is recommended for everyone, but those undergoing cancer treatment may need to visit more often. After all, your dentist in Reno is a key part of your cancer treatment team, and seeing them regularly can help avoid or keep serious side effects at bay. Additionally, if you see your dentist before treatment begins, you can rest assured that you’ll start treatment with an already healthy mouth, reducing the risk of complications. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer, schedule an appointment with your dentist, ideally one month prior to beginning treatment.

Stay Hydrated, Help Your Teeth

Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, so it’s fair to say that we absolutely need to drink plenty of water each and every day to help our bodies perform at their optimal level. In fact, drinking water and staying hydrated helps organs function properly, aids in digestion, keeps joints well lubricated, and can even help fight off illness. But your dentist in Reno wants you to know there are also oral benefits to staying hydrated.

Fights Off Damaging Acids

Everyone naturally has mouth bacteria, but not everyone knows that some of these bacteria are some of the most harmful things for our teeth. As we eat throughout the day, mouth bacteria are getting a feast of their own through the food particles left behind in our mouths. The longer the food is left lingering around, the more the bacteria will consume. As a byproduct of this feeding frenzy, bacteria will give off an acid. This acid, if not removed, will attack the protective layer of teeth and cause decay and cavities. However, if we choose to drink water as we eat, we can help lower this risk. Water helps wash away the source of the bacteria’s meal and without these leftovers to feed on, no acid is produced by the bacteria. Additionally, drinking water immediately after our meals will neutralize any acids that may already be at work attacking the enamel. 

Keeps Mouths Moist

Drinking water throughout the day will also help keep our mouths moist, which is key to maintaining good oral health. If our mouths are too dry it means that not enough saliva is being produced. Without saliva, bacteria are able to flourish, feeding on anything we eat and releasing acids over and over. This increases the risk of developing decay and cavities which may require dental treatment from your dentist in Reno. But that’s not all, dry mouth can also feel uncomfortable and cause chronic bad breath. Keep in mind, dry mouth can be caused by dehydration, but it can also be a result of certain medications, mouth breathing, or smoking. While not all cases of dry mouth are easily solved by drinking plenty of water, it’s not a bad habit to pick up and it certainly can’t hurt. 

Builds Strong Teeth

Drinking water, specifically fluoridated water, can further protect teeth through a process called remineralization. Our teeth’s protective layer of enamel gets worn down over time, whether as a result of too much acid, tooth grinding, or simply time. But drinking water containing fluoride can help remineralize, or rebuild, the lost enamel for better protection. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that’s organically found in some foods. Over time, researchers have found that higher levels of fluoride resulted in lower levels of tooth decay. That’s why fluoride has been added to many public water systems. Patients can also get fluoride from their toothpaste, through foods or drinks that have been fortified with fluoride, or from their dentist in Reno.  

Water is such a simple thing, but it’s one that can make a big difference in both overall and oral health. Make sure each member of your family drinks at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each and every day.

Is Your Flossing Routine Doing Enough For Your Oral Health?

Are you flossing often enough to make a real difference in the fight to prevent oral health troubles? When you do floss, are you doing so effectively enough to fully clean the spaces between your teeth? Your daily dental care habits are incredibly important to the health of your smile, because the threats from oral bacteria are constant. By practicing effective brushing and flossing habits on an ongoing basis, you can remove bacteria, and avoid a buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth. In addition to maintaining admirable at-home oral health habits, you should make regular visits to your dentist. At these appointments, you can receive input on the state of your smile, as well as a professional dental cleaning. Continue reading “Is Your Flossing Routine Doing Enough For Your Oral Health?”

How You Can Help Your Kids Care for Their Teeth

Preventive Dentist's Tips for Tiny TeethEvery parent wants to help keep his or her kids healthy. Unfortunately, a lot of health factors are out of parental control. You can’t fully control what germs your kids are exposed to, for instance, or if they’ll be born predisposed to ear infections. Thankfully, when it comes to their smiles, there is actually a lot you can do, as a parent, to help keep your kids’ smiles healthy. From regular dental checkups with your preventive dentist, to a careful hygiene routine, there are plenty of steps you can take to help your kids develop lifelong good dental habits. Continue reading “How You Can Help Your Kids Care for Their Teeth”

Make Time for Preventive Dental Care

Preventive Care RoutineYou’ll move heaven and earth to make sure you’re home for the season premiere of your favorite TV show, and you wouldn’t dare let your team down by missing their first big game. We make many small sacrifices for the little things that make life special. But where does your smile fall in that equation? Few things can have more impact on how other people perceive you – or your own self-esteem – as your smile. That is why it’s important to make regular preventive dentistry a very important part of your busy schedule. Continue reading “Make Time for Preventive Dental Care”

Why Athletes Have Bad Teeth

athleteolyDuring Olympic years the lives and health of Olympic athletes are a popular topic. Since the last Olympics the dental health-or lack thereof-of Olympic athletes has been in the news time and again. Athletes have been cited for their poor dental health including tooth decay, missing teeth, and periodontal disease. If you’re wondering why athletes, who seem to be in great shape physically, are suffering from poor dental health, read on as we discuss why athletes have bad teeth.

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Did You Kiss Under The Mistletoe?

kissing1The holidays are a festive time of year. People decorate their homes to the hilt with lights, trees, garland, and…mistletoe. There isn’t just an abundance of decorations and festivities during the holidays, there is also an abundance of bacteria being transferred from person to person by shaking hands, hugging, tasting each other’s drinks (not recommended), and…kissing. Yes, just one 10-second kiss under the mistletoe can transfer 80 million bacteria. Did you kiss under the mistletoe this holiday season?

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Stocking Stuffers For Their Smile

stockingsChristmas is a perfect time to encourage your little ones, middle-sized ones, and even big ones to practice proper oral hygiene habits. There are several dental-related gifts that would be helpful to them. But today we aren’t talking about gifts. We are talking about stocking stuffers. There are several smaller-sized dental products that can help encourage your family to take care of their teeth, too, perfect for stuffing stockings. Read on for a list of stocking stuffers for their smile.

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Is Morning Breath A Must?

morningbreathEven when you brush, floss, and gargle at night before going to sleep you wake up with some semblance of morning breath. It’s pretty much a given. Morning breath is a result of natural processes that take place while you sleep. Read on to find out if morning breath is a must and some of the reasons behind it.

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Do Your Gums Bleed?

bleedingumsDo your gums bleed? If so, you may be suffering from periodontal disease. Periodontal disease has been linked to several other chronic diseases including high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, dementia, and impotence among men. If you have periodontal disease it is important that you get it treated. Gingivitis–the mildest stage of periodontal disease–is reversible, but once you develop periodontitis–the severest stage of the disease–it is non-reversible and harder to treat. Bleeding gums are a result of periodontal disease, but there are other reasons your gums may bleed. Read on to find out why your gums might bleed.

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