If you have been diagnosed with cancer within the last several years, then you have likely gone through radiation and chemotherapy treatments. These treatments can unfortunately cause oral health problems. If these issues have resulted in the loss of a tooth, then you may be considering reconstruction that involves the placement of a dental implant. You should know that radiation increases your risks of developing necrosis or bone death across the jaw. You can try to reduce these risks by following the tips outlined below.
Ask About Oxygen Therapy
When you go through radiation treatments, the blood vessels that feed your jaw become damaged, and this reduces the amount of nutrition and oxygen the bone tissues are able to receive. When blood flow decreases, the jaw bone has a difficult time healing on its own. This can lead to serious infections and the formation of necrotic tissues across the bone after dental implantation. Antibiotics are provided to help reduce infection risks, but this does not help increase the amount of oxygen that reaches the bone.
A special kind of treatment called hyperbaric oxygen therapy can increase the amount of oxygen that reaches the jaw bone though. This therapy also reduces harmful bacteria in the body and it stimulates healing after your dental implant operation. The therapy is painless and it requires you to sit in a chamber or closed room where air pressure is increased. The increase in pressure helps the body take in more oxygen as you breathe.
Make sure to ask your oral surgeon if hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an option for you after dental implantation.
Increase Blood Flow
Another good way to reduce jaw necrosis risks after dental implantation is to make sure that your blood is flowing through the undamaged blood vessels of your jaw as effectively as possible. This means increasing your circulation and there are many foods that you can eat to help you with this.
Foods that contain vitamin C thin out the blood a small amount and reduce the amount of plaque that can build on artery walls. Consider eating oranges, bell peppers, kale, strawberries, and broccoli when your dentist indicates that you can eat solid foods again after your operation. Other foods that can help increase blood circulation include garlic, dark chocolate, salmon, and ginger.
Exercise can help to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy as well, so consider jogging, swimming, or joining an aerobics class. Try to exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. Just make sure not to start exercising for the first two or three weeks after your dental implant is secured. This can cause serious bleeding problems.
The gums and the jaw can only heal properly after dental implantation if bacteria are kept away from the wound site. Your dentist will likely provide you with a prescription mouthwash to help reduce the amount of bacteria that live and thrive in your mouth. The rinse will contain an active germicide called chlorhexidine gluconate. Use this rinse as directed and also use a good toothpaste several times a day. Anti-plaque toothpastes are best, because they keep your mouth free of the sticky material that is used as a food by bacteria.
Once you are asked to discontinue the use of your prescription mouthwash, switch to an antiseptic rinse that can control bacterial activity in the mouth. Also make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will help to rinse away food, plaque, and bacteria, so the implant site is less likely to become infected by the microorganisms in the mouth.
If you have gone through cancer treatment and want a dental implant, then you will need to work diligently to reduce infection and necrosis risks. Make sure to ask your dentist about oxygen therapy and increase blood circulation naturally. Also, use rinses to reduce mouth bacteria. To learn more, go to sites of local dental clinics, or contact an experienced dentist.