One of the most important reasons to maintain good oral hygiene is the prevention and minimization of infection. Damage to the lining of the mouth and a weakened immune system make it easier for infection to occur. Your mouth contains many microorganisms that, under normal circumstances, pose no risk to you or may actually be beneficial. Once tissue is damaged, however, it provides a way for harmful microorganisms to enter your blood or lymph system and cause a systemic infection, which can be very serious. In addition, cancer therapies reduce your body’s normal ability to fight off infection (immune suppression), which increases the risks posed by even mild infections.
Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the these symptoms:
Prevention is best, but should you get an infection then early, aggressive treatment can reduce the risks that the infection will worsen or spread and also lessen your discomfort/ pain.
Types of Infection
Treatment of bacterial infections in those who have gum disease and who are receiving high-dose chemotherapy may include the following:
Bacterial infections in patients undergoing radiation therapy are usually treated with antibiotics.
Bleeding may occur during chemotherapy when anticancer drugs affect the ability of blood to clot.
Areas of gum disease may bleed on their own or when irritated by eating, brushing, or flossing. Bleeding may be mild (small red spots on the lips, soft palate, or bottom of the mouth) or severe, especially at the gum line and from ulcers in the mouth. When blood counts drop below certain levels, blood may ooze from the gums.
With close monitoring, most people can safely brush and floss throughout the entire time of decreased blood counts.
Continuing regular oral care will help prevent infections that may further complicate bleeding problems. Your dentist or doctor can provide guidance on how to treat bleeding and safely keep your mouth clean when blood counts are low.
Treatments for Bleeding During Chemotherapy