3 Reasons to See Your Dentist During Cancer Treatment

Getting a cancer diagnosis can be understandably scary, and some cancer treatments can cause some unwanted and unpleasant side effects throughout your body. Your mouth is no exception. While we understand that seeing your dentist in Lawrenceville may not be at the top of your to-do list, especially if you’re preparing to begin cancer treatment, it’s important to know that these visits can be an important part of keeping your body healthy and strong through cancer treatment. In fact, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, dental checkups before and during cancer treatment can prevent problems that may be serious enough to stop cancer treatment, which is the last thing you want to do. 

  • Decreased White Blood Cells

Cancer treatment can be really effective at killing cancer cells, but they can also damage or kill good, healthy, normal cells including white blood cells. White blood cells are important to help fight off infection. Without enough of them, the immune system is weakened. Why is this a concern for your dentist in Lawrenceville? Well, if you have a gum infection, for example, and then your immune system is weakened, the infection can cause complications to both your oral health and additional problems to your overall health.  

  • Calcium Reduction

If your oncologist recommends radiation therapy to your head or neck, it may also affect your dental health. These treatments tend to reduce calcium levels in the body, and since our tooth enamel consists of mainly calcium, this reduction can cause teeth to weaken, putting them at increased risk of cavities. But that’s not all. Radiation therapy may also damage salivary glands, reducing their ability to produce saliva. This results in dry mouth, which also puts your oral health at risk for additional problems, including cavities and gum disease. Your dentist in Lawrenceville may recommend fluoride to help strengthen enamel or a special rinse to help keep the mouth properly hydrated. 

  • Mucositis

Many cancer treatments involve the use of chemotherapy, which can damage the mucosal tissues in the mouth. This may cause painful sores and a temporary condition called mucositis. Mucositis is the inflammation or ulceration of the mucus membranes anywhere along the digestive tract, from the mouth through the intestines, and can affect an estimated 40% of cancer patients. Your dentist in Lawrenceville may be able to help reduce discomfort caused by mucositis through laser dentistry or other treatments.  

Your dentist is always an important part of your healthcare team, especially if you’re undergoing cancer treatment. Make sure to see your dentist at least every six months, and perhaps more during treatment, to help protect your oral health and, in turn, the rest of your body.

concerned womanOur gums are an important part of our oral health. After all, they help hold our teeth in place and protect the tooth roots. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to see them when we smile, no matter how important they are. Nonetheless, there are some people whose gums show more prominently than others. This is known as a gummy smile. Now while there typically aren’t any problems associated with a gummy smile, they can make some feel self-conscious. When this is the case, your dentist in Lawrenceville has some options to help. 

Causes of a Gummy Smile

Before we dive into some of the cosmetic dentistry options that can fix a gummy smile, it’s important to know what can cause it in the first place. Some of the most common causes of a gummy smile include: 

  • Abnormal Tooth Eruption

One of the most common causes behind a gummy smile is the way the teeth develop and erupt. When there’s too much growth in the gum tissue it can expand up and over, essentially hiding teeth. This can create the appearance of short teeth and a gummy smile. However, oftentimes the teeth are fully developed and can be uncovered. An abundance of gum tissue can be genetic or can be a result of medication of an infection in the gums.

  • A Bad Bite

At your dental appointments, your dentist in Lawrenceville will ask you to bite down and touch your top teeth to your bottom teeth in order to check your bite alignment. This can help identify several things such as a potential problem with your jaw. A bad bite may also be the reason behind a gummy smile. For example, if the upper jaw protrudes too far outward can create a gummy appearance.

  • Hyperactive Upper Lip

While something called a hyperactive upper lip may seem silly, it’s a very real thing. Sometimes the muscles in the upper lip and under the nose are too active. Over time, this overuse can bring the top lip up too high, exposing the gums. This cause of a gummy smile is often hereditary. 

Your dentist in Lawrenceville will need to know the root cause of a gummy smile in order to recommend the best treatment for your specific situation.  

Gummy Smile Treatment

Treatment of a gummy smile can vary greatly depending on the case. But some of the most common solutions are: 

  • Scaling & Root Planing

If the cause of a gummy smile is an infection, your dentist will probably recommend beginning with a scaling and root planing deep cleaning. This treatment can be very effective at removing infection and reducing inflammation that may make the gums appear larger than normal. If scaling and root planing treatment doesn’t give a patient the result they desire, there are additional treatments available. 

  • Crown Lengthening/Gum Recontouring

Other common and often successful treatments for a gummy smile are crown lengthening or gum recontouring, which are pretty much exactly what they sound like. These procedures remove excess tissue around the teeth and restructure the gum line allowing more of the white enamel to show. 

  • Orthodontics

A gummy smile caused by a bad bite may best be treated through orthodontics, including traditional braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign or ClearCorrect. Orthodontics can also help fix a bad bite in general and may relieve jaw pain or other oral health problems related to a bad bite.

If you notice more of your gums showing when you smile, laugh, or talk, and it bothers you, schedule a consultation with your dentist in Lawrenceville.

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