How can we help you?
We understand that patients have many questions about their dental care, and we never want you to hesitate to contact us with your questions or concerns.
Here are some of the questions we hear the most. If you don’t get your question answered here, you can speak to any one of our staff members.
Short, worn down teeth are the result of a misalignment of the teeth when the jaws come together. They can also be the result of clenching and grinding, which usually occurs at night. In addition, premature loss of permanent teeth can increase the demand on the remaining teeth, resulting in worn, broken teeth.
If grinding and clenching are the culprits behind your worn teeth, we can help by providing you with a customized occlusal guard to hold your jaws apart while you are sleeping to prevent further wear and tear.
Because cancer treatment can affect the oral tissues, you need to know about potential oral side effects. Preexisting or untreated oral disease can also complicate cancer treatment.
Oral complications from radiation to the head and neck or chemotherapy can compromise your health and quality of life, and affect their ability to complete planned cancer treatment.
For some patients, the complications can be so debilitating that they may tolerate only lower doses of therapy, postpone scheduled treatments, or discontinue treatment entirely. Oral complications can also lead to serious systemic infections. Medically necessary oral care before, during, and after cancer treatment can prevent or reduce the incidence and severity of oral complications, enhancing both patient survival and quality of life.
Oral complications of cancer treatment arise in various forms and degrees of severity, depending on the individual and the cancer treatment. Chemotherapy often impairs the function of bone marrow, suppressing the formation of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Some cancer treatments have toxic effects on the oral tissues. Following are lists of side effects common to both chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and complications specific to each type of treatment.
- Oral mucositis: inflammation and ulceration of the mucous membranes; can increase the risk for pain, oral and systemic infection, and nutritional compromise.
- Infection: viral, bacterial, and fungal; results from myelosuppression, xerostomia, and/or damage to the mucosa from chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
- Salivary Dysfunction: dryness of the mouth due to thickened, reduced, or absent salivary flow; increases the risk of infection and compromises speaking, chewing, and swallowing. Medications other than chemotherapy can also cause salivary gland dysfunction. Persistent dry mouth increases the risk for dental caries.
- Functional disabilities: impaired ability to eat, taste, swallow, and speak because of mucositis, dry mouth, trismus, and infection.
- Taste alterations: Changes in taste perception of foods, ranging from unpleasant to tasteless.
- Nutritional compromise: poor nutrition from eating difficulties caused by mucositis, dry mouth, dysphagia, and loss of taste.
- Abnormal dental development: altered tooth development, craniofacial growth, or skeletal development in children secondary to radiotherapy and/or high doses of chemotherapy before age 9.
Oral complications occur in virtually all patients receiving radiation for head and neck malignancies, in approximately 80 percent of hematopoietic (blood-forming) stem cell transplant recipients, and in nearly 40 percent of patients receiving chemotherapy.
Some complications occur only during treatment; others, such as xerostomia, may persist for years. Unfortunately, patients with cancer do not always receive oral care until serious complications develop.
Most people probably grind and clench their teeth from time to time. Occasional teeth grinding, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis the teeth can be damaged and other oral health complications can arise.
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.