Why is good dental hygiene so important to those diagnosed with HPV related oral cancer?
This blog will be short, sweet and to the point. Strong oral hygiene is extremely important and may one day change your life. My radiation oncologist and other doctors told me that one of the reasons I had such a positive outcome regarding the side effects from radiation, was that I went into my first radiation treatment already having excellent oral hygiene. I am a guy who flosses, brushes and uses mouthwash daily. I also see my dentist and dental hygienist a minimum of twice annually. This is important, as I now have 20% less saliva as a side effect from radiation. Who would have thought that saliva is needed to keep a mouth clean and fight bacteria?
While this blog may seem a little silly to those of you who know little about HPV related oral cancer, it is extremely important to me. Shortly after finishing my treatments, I attended a head and neck cancer support group and met multiple people who had dental issues as a side effect from radiation. Also note, most had radiation 4-12 years before me, so their treatment was less targeted, and more far reaching. One of the women I met started tearing up as she described how her teeth began to fall out post radiation. Another person described a similar type issue, and others discussed problems they had with their jaw and tissue within their mouth. Quite honestly, I was extremely concerned by this and immediately contacted my doctors and dentist.
I understood through multiple discussions with my dentist and radiation oncologist that I would need to use Fluoridex toothpaste on a daily basis forever, which has four times the fluoride of non-prescription over-the-counter toothpastes. As well, I would use PreviDent Gel in trays multiple times a week forever. The purpose of using both of these products is to strengthen the enamel on my teeth to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Similarly, these products work to minimize the bacteria in my mouth, and therefore prevent disease.