H. Royer (Frosty) Culp, DDS
High Point, NC
In his career as a dentist, Dr. Frosty Culp has followed many long-time patients through their cancer journeys. Yes, examining patients for oral cancers is part of his routine, but helping his patients who are going through all types of cancer treatments is a vital component of his practice. Dr. Culp understands firsthand the stark realities of a cancer diagnosis and treatment because his son Will is a survivor of a childhood bone cancer.
Before you begin cancer treatment, make sure you have a thorough exam of your teeth and supporting tissues and a review of oral hygiene instructions. This way your dentist can correct any dental problems before you begin treatment.
Use a fluoride toothpaste before and during treatment. This can be 1.1% neutral sodium fluoride or .4% stannous fluoride, which is usually prescribed by the dentist. Trays that fit in the mouth can be made for this fluoride application as well.
To protect the delicate tissue in your mouth during chemotherapy and radiation therapy, avoid:
- Soda, unless it is sugar free
- Spicy or acidic foods.
Because cancer treatments can make your mouth dry, try these tips to keep your mouth moist:
- Sip water frequently
- Suck ice chips or sugar free candy
- Chew sugar-free gum
- Avoid glycerin swabs
- Use topical anesthetics for oral pain
- Use a saliva substitute such as Biotene
Exercise your jaw to keep it from becoming stiff from radiation by opening wide and closing about 20 times.
If you have received intravenous bisphosphates as part of your cancer treatment, you are at an increased risk for osteonecrosis of the jaw, a fairly rare but serious condition that causes severe bone loss. Make sure your dentist knows about this treatment. See your dentist and oncologist regularly and, if possible, avoid invasive dental procedures.