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Did you know that over a third of cancer patients can develop dental health issues as a side effect of the radiation treatment? This may include burning, peeling or swelling tongue, oral infections, a pain in the mouth and gums, dry mouth, and a transformation in taste. If you are experiencing these issues, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your symptoms and come out of your treatment on top.

Dry mouth happens when your salivary glands often do not produce enough saliva to clean your teeth sufficiently. This can lead to serious dental health issues like tooth decay and gum disease. To battle dry mouth, you can buy saliva substitutes. These come in the form of sprays or rinses and are available online and at the occasional drugstore. You don’t even need a prescription. You can also try sipping water, sucking on hard sugarless candy or ice chips, and chewing xylotil based gum to stimulate your salivary glands.

You may want to make a few adjustments to the way you brush your teeth and floss. Try using a toothbrush that has extra soft bristles to avoid irritation. It’s important to use fluoride toothpaste to protect your teeth from decay. You’ll also want to floss gently every day. However, avoid flossing any areas that are especially sore. Avoid using mouthwash for now.

If your mouth is sensitive, be careful about what you put inside. Aim to consume soft, moist foods such as cooked cereals, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes. If you want to eat tougher foods, soften them with sauce, broths, yogurt or other liquids. Avoid crunchy or spicy foods, candy and soda, and controlled substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

If you need help with anything at all, please ring G. Larry Leonakis DDS Inc. in Carson City, Nevada at 775-882-0635 to talk to a member of our dental staff. We can set up an appointment to meet with Dr. Larry Leonakis as needed. We’re here to help!