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FAQs - Survivors

Follow our Survivors & Caregivers Blog for tips on ways to keep your mouth healthy and reduce unwanted side effects.

Why would I bother worrying about my teeth if I’ve just been told I have cancer?

The health of your mouth can affect the health of the rest of your body. Dental problems have the potential to complicate your cancer treatments.

What if my cancer is not in my mouth? How can dental treatment help to prevent complications with the treatments that I will receive?

Dental disease can make you susceptible to infections inside of your mouth. These infections can spread throughout your body, especially when your immune system is compromised with certain types of cancer treatments. Some cancer treatments can also cause painful side effects within your mouth. Preventive dental care can reduce your risks of these types of side effects.

If I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer, when should I see my dentist?

See your dentist as soon as possible to ensure that there is enough time to resolve any problems and avoid any delays in starting your cancer treatments.

I don’t go to the dentist unless I have pain. If I am not currently experiencing pain in my mouth, can I assume that I don’t have any dental problems?

No! Many dental problems may not cause pain until they are in the most advanced stages. Do not wait until you feel pain to seek dental care. Prevention is the key.

If I do see a dentist prior to cancer treatments, am I guaranteed to not experience unwanted oral side effects?

There are no guarantees to completely avoid certain oral side effects associated with cancer treatments, but preventive care can help to reduce your risks.

What if I already see my dentist regularly for preventive care? Should I still inform my dental office of my cancer diagnosis and be seen prior to treatments?

It is wise to inform your dental office of your diagnosis and ask them to review your records to ensure that you are up-to-date on dental radiographs (x-rays) and that there are no concerns that could potentially cause complications with your cancer treatments. Your dentist may wish to schedule an examination just to be safe.

Will I need to make changes to my normal oral homecare routine?

Yes! Your dental office can assist you with proper homecare instructions during cancer treatments.

What if I have not seen a dentist in several years and don’t know which dentist I should call for an examination?

Ask your oncologist for a recommendation.