Top recommendations for oral care during & after treatment with Dr. Jacqueline S. Winter
How do I love thy smile? A whole lot! Smiles bring joy, encouragement, love, passion, laughter, security and can sometimes be deceiving. But what's universal is everyone wants a great smile. For someone who is going thru chemotherapy or radiation treatment that may be difficult to do. Often overlooked until after treatment, oral health should be included in the management plan for the cancer patient. Oral health can turn into a challenging headache, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Well, once I received my breast cancer diagnosis, and confirmation that chemotherapy was going to be my only option, I did a little research and discovered that chemotherapy while killing fast growing cells, would exploit any weakness that my body had. I've heard the horror stories of mouth sores, loose teeth, bleeding gums, infections and being unable to enjoy food. Making the decision to visit my dentist before I began chemotherapy was one of the best things I could have done for my overall health. I made an appointment with my smile saver, the one and only Dr. Jacqueline S. Winter D.D.S. in NYC, to get a check up and acquire useful knowledge for managing oral care during chemotherapy.
I remember when I made the call to schedule an appointment. Dr. Winter's staff, (who I've come to know and really like) where shocked and saddened that I had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would have to undergo chemotherapy. Dedicated to her craft and her patients, Dr. Winter (who had been looking after my oral health for 12 years prior to my cancer diagnosis) looked me in the eyes and said "We are going to keep those beautiful teeth in your mouth!" Here are a few of the tips that were recommended for my dental care:
- Visiting the dental office two weeks prior to the start of chemotherapy to conduct an oral exam
- Brushing with a soft toothbrush after every meal
- Using my prescribed toothpaste (It contained a super duper amount of extra fluoride)
- Rinsing after meals with a mouthwash that did not contain alcohol (I used Biotene) and brushing before I went to bed
- Taking special care to examine my mouth on a daily basis, and if I observed any change (sores, excessive bleeding, strange coating) I should immediately contact her office for my medical oncologist.
*IMPORTANT: You should consult with your oncologist before visiting your dentist, especially if your going to have any dental procedure.
Here's a link to a very useful guide provided by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research on oral care while going thru cancer and radiation therapy.
I'm happy to announce that I followed Dr. Winter's instructions and suffered none of the oral side effects that can happen during cancer therapy. My smile stayed intact, my gums remained healthy and I only had a mild case of the "metal mouth" (a strange sort of metal aftertaste once chemo has begun).