I am proud to say that I have all my own teeth at the age of 65. While that may not sound unusual to some people, everyone in my family who is my age or older wears dentures. I always tell people that that flossing is the key to good dental health. I have arthritis in my hands, but I don't let it keep me from flossing every day. My trick is to use those little "flossers" you can buy at the drug store. They have plastic handles floss stretched out on top of the handle. These make flossing easier on days when my arthritis is acting up. I started this blog to let other people know that they can keep their teeth healthy into old age when they take care of them. If you have hand pain, find ways to make flossing easier, like I did.
Radiation treatments for head and neck cancer can have ill effects on your mouth, teeth and gums. Below you will learn about three dental issues that are prevalent with head and neck radiation therapy and simple things that you can do to help prevent damage to your teeth.
Normal saliva production helps to rinse away bacteria, germs and acidic food particles in your mouth, which helps to prevent tooth decay. Radiation treatments that are aimed at the head and neck area can harm the salivary glands and this causes a decrease in saliva production and a condition called dry mouth. When damaged by radiation, it often takes six months or more for the salivary glands to return to their normal function.
To keep tooth decay from forming, due to a decrease in saliva production during and after radiation therapy, visit your local drugstore and purchase a saliva substitute or a mouthwash that contains xylitol. This substance is a natural sweetening agent that also helps to keep bacteria from forming in your mouth. Additional ways to keep the saliva flowing include sucking on sugar-free candy, chewing sugar-free gum or sipping water throughout the day.
Tooth Or Gum Infection
When radiation therapy is performed on your head or neck, this causes an increase in mouth and gum infections because it raises the acidity and lowers the pH balance in your mouth. Bacteria thrive on the acids in your mouth and severely decayed teeth are prone to becoming infected. Radiation treatments also destroy the white blood cells in your body and these are responsible for combating infection. When this occurs, it takes longer for your body to fight off an infection in your mouth because the healing process takes longer.
You can prevent prevailing tooth or gum infections from getting worse during radiation treatments by scheduling an appointment with your family dentist. To keep from acquiring an infection of the teeth or gums while taking radiation treatments, eat plenty of infection-fighting fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens, berries and grapes. Make a simple and inexpensive mouth rinse by combining the following ingredients:
Mix the baking soda and salt thoroughly into a glass of water and rinse your mouth out with this solution four times a day. The ingredients in this rinse alkalinize the mouth, which helps to decrease the presence of bacteria and the threat of infection.
Radiation therapy kills the cancer cells in your body, but it also causes damage to healthy cells. When the radiation impairs your good cells, germs and bacteria run rampant in your mouth. This can lead to painful sores on your gums, tongue, or the bottom and top of your mouth. These open lesions in your mouth can make it difficult to eat, talk or swallow.
To reduce the pain of mouth sores, use a toothbrush with soft bristles or rub a sponge applicator brush across the surface of your teeth. Dip the bristles of your toothbrush in hot water for 30 seconds to soften them up if they feel stiff. Avoid using mouthwash that contains alcohol, as this ingredient irritates mouth sores and can cause a burning sensation. Do not eat spicy or extremely hot foods and stay away from crunchy foods, such as potato chips, pretzels and hard cereals.
To keep tooth, gum and mouth issues from developing during head and neck radiation treatments, follow the recommendations listed above. To ensure that your teeth are in the best condition possible, schedule an appointment with your family dentist for a complete dental checkup at least one month before your radiation treatments begin. Visit websites like http://www.vfdental.com for more information.