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Cancer and oral health

Many cancer treatments have side effects which affect a person's mouth, teeth, and salivary glands which can make it difficult to eat, talk, chew or swallow. Salivary glands make saliva,  which plays a significant role in maintaining oral health.

A reduction in the quality or quantity in saliva can affect the natural protection we all need to fend of infection. 

The side effects from cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiotherapy) include the following:

  • Dry mouth

  • Reduction in the quality and quantity of saliva

  • Changes in taste

  • Mouth soreness

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Difficulty chewing or opening the mouth

  • Increased risk of infection

  • Increased risk of complications following extractions/ dental surgery

  • Inflammation or pain in the lining of the mouth and tongue

  • Higher risk of tooth decay or gum disease

Most mouth-related side effects are not long-lasting or permanent except those who suffer from a head or neck cancer, when the side effects can be long lasting or even permanent.

Causes of dental or oral side effects

Radiation therapy to the head and neck. Side effects of radiation therapy to the head and neck may be temporary or continue for several years after treatment. They can include: dry mouth, a decrease in saliva, thickened saliva, infection, increased risk of tooth decay, loss of or change in taste, mouth sores and a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Radiation therapy can change the amount and consistency of your saliva. This increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Having good oral hygiene is important in lowering your risk of these conditions. Taking Dr Heff’s Remarkable Mints can play an important role in maintaining good oral hygiene.

Chemotherapy. Dental and oral side effects from chemotherapy usually go away soon after treatment ends. They include: mouth sores, pain in the mouth and gums, peeling or burning of the tongue, infection, changes in taste, temporary decrease in your body’s ability to produce infection-fighting cells and bleeding from your gums

Dr Heff’s founders, Mike Heffernan and Toby Edwards-Lunn, know the side effects of cancer treatment can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating… and are already working with a number of cancer charities including The Swallows Head and Neck Cancer Charity  offering advice, and discounts to patients/sufferers.  Toby Edwards-Lunn says that saliva production and maintaining oral hygiene is really important for cancer sufferers and Dr Heff’s Remarkable Mints will stimulate whatever amount of saliva exists.