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Did you know that over a third of cancer patients can develop dental health issues as a side effect of the radiation treatment? This may include burning, peeling or swelling tongue, oral infections, a pain in the mouth and gums, dry mouth, and a transformation in taste. If you have cancer, we sympathize. We also don’t want you to have to worry about your oral health. The good news is that there are several things you can do to lower the risk of dental complications.

If you develop dry mouth, this can cause more serious issues. Dry mouth occurs when your salivary glands often do not produce enough saliva to clean your teeth sufficiently, which can lead to decay and gum disease. To battle this problem, you can buy a saliva substitute. These are available online and at the occasional drugstore, and you don’t even have to ask your doctor for a prescription. You can also try sipping water throughout the day, sucking on hard sugarless candy or ice chips, and chewing xylotil based gum.

You may want to make a few adjustments to your oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth with a toothbrush that has extra soft bristles to avoid irritation. If your mouth is already sore, you can even try running the brush under warm water first to soften it. It’s important to use fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth from decay. You’ll also want to floss gently every day, evading flossing any particularly sore areas.

If your mouth is sensitive, you can help it along by being careful about what you put inside. Try to consume soft, moist foods such as cooked cereals, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes, and soften other foods with sauce, broths, yogurt or other liquids. Avoid crunchy or spicy foods, candy and soda, and controlled substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

If you need help with anything at all, please don’t hesitate to ring Michael Lemme DDS in Oak Harbor, Washington at 360-675-3334 to talk to a member of our dental staff. We can set up an appointment to meet with Dr. Michael Lemme as needed. We’re here to support you.