South Shore Long Island
Periodontics & Implantology P.C.
Dr. Leslie G. Batnick, D.D.S.
Dr. Lois B. Levine, D.D.S.
Dr. Joo H. Kim, D.D.S.
Diplomates, American Board of Periodontology

Oral Health During Cancer Treatment

If you’re fighting cancer, caring for your teeth and gums might be the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, however, chemotherapy frequently leads to oral complications, and periodontal disease and other oral health conditions can intensify during treatment.

At South Shore Long Island Periodontics and Implantology, we believe that your dentist and periodontist are an important part of your overall cancer treatment team. We will work together with your oncologist and your other treatment providers to make sure that you get the best care and that every system is as healthy as it can be.

Complications During Cancer Treatment

Treatments used to fight cancer are, unfortunately, well known for the side effects they can cause. Some of the oral side effects you might experience during chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplant include:

  • Pain when you eat, swallow, and speak
  • Increased risk of bacterial, viral, and fungal infections
  • Dry mouth
  • Pain and swelling in the tongue
  • Changes in the way things taste
  • Altered dental development
  • Neurotoxicity, which can mimic the pain of a toothache
  • Bleeding
  • Radiation caries, a lifelong increased risk for rampant decay
  • Loss of elasticity in the facial muscles
  • Osteonecrosis

Dental Care Before, During, and After Cancer Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, please consult with our office before you begin your cancer treatment. We will perform an examination and determine which oral problems should be corrected prior to beginning treatment. It’s typically not recommended for people who are undergoing cancer treatment to have surgical treatment, so if surgery would improve your oral health, it’s best to start that before your cancer treatment.

Throughout your cancer treatment, your doctor here at South Shore Long Island Periodontics and Implantology will be by your side to answer questions and provide care and treatment for any oral side effects you might be experiencing. For many patients, oral side effects can lead to other systemic side effects. For instance, if you are experiencing mucosal pain and a change in the way foods taste, you may find yourself avoiding eating. This can lead to malnutrition and weakness, which can make it harder for you to fight your cancer. We can help. Our team of doctors will work with your oncologist to plan care and provide needed treatment to improve your health and your comfort.

After your cancer treatment is complete, continue to see our office. Since some of the side effects from cancer treatment, such as radiation caries and osteonecrosis, can have lasting effects, you’ll want an oral health provider who is familiar with your history and your specific needs. We will help treat your conditions and keep your oral health up so that your teeth and gums can look and feel their best. As needed, we can provide treatment for damaged or lost teeth as well, to restore function and comfort.