The Dental Part of Cancer Treatment
Portland Dentist

If there is one thing that is predictable about cancer, it is that it is unpredictable. Through the years we have seen family and patients who have been affected in varying degrees by it, and like everyone else, we cannot wait for a cure, or at least a more comfortable treatment.

But sometimes treatments like Chemo-or Radio-therapy are necessary, and thoughts of dental care drop from the forefront. One of the side-effects, alas, all too commonly, is the destruction of heretofore solid teeth.

The reason for this is all too easily understood: the Therapy is designed to kill rapidly growing cells, of which both the target cancer and the endocrine glands are composed. Indeed, one of the most common experiences of patients so treated is a lack of saliva, or "dry mouth."

When the gum tissues are dried out, as with this condition, the soft gum tissues shrink away from the teeth, exposing the root structure of the teeth. These roots, in turn, dry out and become highly susceptible to root decay. The result is that, when the cancer is hopefully successfully treated, the teeth may need extensive repair or replacement.

It was because of having observed this result on numerous occasions that we committed ourselves to minimizing the dental implications of cancer treatments. In essence, we reasoned that if we could keep the gums and teeth moist throughout the treatment, we would see less gum loss and tooth destruction from the dry mouth. We tried it on several patients, and have had great success in our results.

The treatment consists of simply wearing modified “bleaching trays”, those thin. flexible, transparent closely fitting trays that are comfortable and easy to wear. The patient simply uses them to maintain a damp environment around the teeth and the gums, and thus to prevent the drying of the tissues, and the consequent shrinking of the gums.

These trays are simple to get, and simple to wear, and may well help you avoid a very great amount of dental treatment and expense and inconvenience down the road.

Because we all know what they say about an ounce of prevention...