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.

The Oral Health Dangers of Cough Medicine

During this time of the year, it seems as if everyone we encounter is sneezing, sniffling, or coughing. While we do as much as we can to avoid getting a cold, sometimes we just get sick. When we do get a case of the coughs we just want it to go away, so we will try almost anything to make it stop. Most commonly, we’ll suck on cough drops and take cough syrup throughout the day. Even though these medications can alleviate our symptoms, your dentist in Reno wants you to know that the common ingredients in cough medicine do pose risks to oral health.    

Concerning Ingredients

Many cough syrups and cough drops contain ingredients that can cause damage to teeth. More specifically, those medications containing sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, and alcohol are the most concerning to your Reno dentist. The truth is, these ingredients can make us feel better during the course of a cold but can have long-term negative side effects on oral health. 


We’ve all heard Mary Poppins sing about how a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down, and she was right. Most cough syrups and cough drops contain sugar to help mask their naturally bad and bitter taste. But just like sugary snacks and foods, these sugars can be dangerous to teeth. When we introduce sugars into our mouths we can essentially create a feeding frenzy for bacteria. These bacteria will feed on sugar and then release an acidic byproduct. This acid will wear away tooth enamel and increases the risk of decay and cavities.  


Besides sugar, some cold medicines contain small amounts of alcohol. Alcohol is known to cause dry mouth, even in smaller quantities. Normally, our mouths produce a lot of saliva — between 0.5 and 1.5 liters every day. This saliva helps neutralize dangerous acids and reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. However, when alcohol causes dry mouth, saliva production slows and acids and bacteria stick around. This can increase the likelihood of decay. 

Feel Better While Protecting Teeth

Even though cold medicine can increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities, you shouldn’t suffer through a cold by not taking it. However, your dentist in Reno my recommend: 

  • Taking a pill instead of liquid medication. Liquid medication can basically coat your mouth with sugar and alcohol, while pills greatly reduce how much contact your mouth has with those ingredients. 
  • Taking cold medication with food. When we eat we tend to produce more saliva which, as we know, will help wash away sugar and alcohol before they have a chance to cause damage.  
  • Brushing your teeth after you take medicine, especially before bed. Taking medicine then brushing your teeth will help reduce the amount of sugar and alcohol left in the mouth. This is particularly important before bed. Taking cough syrup before bed without brushing your teeth after means the ingredients are lingering in the mouth all night long.  

While we truly hope our patients and neighbors stay healthy all year round if you do happen to get sick, try taking medicine using the tips above to protect your smile.

Men Beware: A New Link Between Gum Disease And Prostate Health

prostate You may not think so but the health of your gums can affect your overall health. Gum disease has been linked to numerous health conditions throughout your body including high blood pressure, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. It has also been linked to erectile dysfunction and prostate inflammation in men. If you could help avoid many health issues simply by practicing proper oral hygiene and visiting your dentist twice yearly, you would wouldn’t you? According to research, attending your dental visits is equally important as seeing your general physician, especially for men. Not only do more men present with gum disease than woman, a link between prostate health and gum disease has recently been discovered, so men beware.

Periodontal Disease And Psoriasis?

psoriasis Periodontal disease has been linked to numerous other health issues and is continually being linked to more. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease are harmful pathogenic bacteria that can play havoc on other parts of your body as well. Periodontal disease has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, male impotence, pancreatic cancer, dementia, and more. The bacterium associated with periodontal disease can cause chronic inflammation. Periodontal disease has been linked to psoriasis, another chronic inflammatory disease.                                  

Continue reading “Periodontal Disease And Psoriasis?”

HIV And Perio FAQs

HIV1 More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that only affects humans by weakening their immune system and destroying important disease-fighting cells. People with HIV and AIDS are predisposed to periodontal disease because their bodies do not have the resources to fight off infection. That’s bad enough, but what if periodontal disease was contributing to the HIV infection? Periodontal disease has been linked to several other chronic systemic diseases, and now it has also been linked to HIV. Read on as we share facts about HIV and periodontal disease.

Continue reading “HIV And Perio FAQs”

Is Periodontal Disease Linked to Pancreatic Cancer?

pancreatic Periodontal disease has recently been linked to several other illnesses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung infections, dementia, HIV, and impotence in men. The link between oral health and systemic health is continuously being proven again and again. That means if you are suffering from periodontal disease you are at risk that it will aggravate, exacerbate, rebirth, or cause other illnesses throughout your body. Periodontal disease is most often due to poor oral hygiene and it doesn’t take much to maintain good dental health. You may want to tend to that rather soon because periodontal disease has also been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Continue reading “Is Periodontal Disease Linked to Pancreatic Cancer?”

What is Perio Protect?

perio1 Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a serious condition that not only poses a threat to your dental health and the health of your teeth, but also threatens your overall health. Over 65 million adult Americans present with symptoms of periodontal disease which can put them at risk for other systemic diseases, and periodontal disease is on the rise worldwide. As with many medical conditions the earlier gum disease is diagnosed the easier it is to treat. The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis which can be treated and reversed. Gingivitis is the inflammation of your gingival tissue. Left untreated it can lead to periodontitis, the severe stage of periodontal disease.  What is Perio Protect? Perio Protect is a specialized system developed to improve the health and appearance of your gums.

Continue reading “What is Perio Protect?”

Do You Wear Your Dentures To Bed?

dentureswe For denture wearers, wearing dentures to bed is the same as people with natural teeth not brushing before bedtime. It just seems the easy thing to do. However, just as not brushing before bed can be damaging to your oral and dental health, wearing your dentures to bed can be damaging to your physical health.Read on as your Reno dentists, Dr. William Wager and Dr. Brian Evans explain why you shouldn’t wear your dentures to bed.

Continue reading “Do You Wear Your Dentures To Bed?”

Chemotherapy and Its Effects

oncolog Chemotherapy can save your life. It has saved millions of people, there is no doubt. But it is well-known that chemotherapy has certain drawbacks too. One of those drawbacks is the effect it has on your oral health. In today’s blog, your Reno dentists, Dr. William Wager and Dr. Brian Evans discuss chemotherapy and its effect on your oral health.

Continue reading “Chemotherapy and Its Effects”