Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chemo and Oral Health

Oral Health and Chemotherapy 

Periodontist or oncologist?  For those dealing with cancer treatment, a relationship with your oncologist may be just as important as the one with your dentist.  Chemotherapy offers many positives in preventing the growth of cancers; however, this powerful treatment can cause a few issues along the way.  Oral health complications is one common discomfort many chemo patients face, but Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman want to shed some light on how to practice the best oral health habits to maintain hygiene and comfort during chemo treatment.  

There are many different types of chemotherapy so it is important to talk with your doctor for more specific information, but we will discuss a few side effects.   One of the more common side effects is mucositis.  Musositis is the ulceration of the mucosa lining in the digestive tract which includes the oral cavity.  When this occurs, the feeling for each patient varies as some can experience inflammation and redness while others succumb to more severe ulceration.   Mouth sores can occur on your tongue and mouth. Periodontal Associates give this advice in preventing and treating these sores:  

1.       Drink plenty of water – at least 64 ounces – although more than 64 ounces is suggested especially when living in dry climates such as Denver, CO.
2.       Stay hydrated with drinks enhanced with electrolytes
3.       Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they dry out your tongue and gum tissue
4.       Eat soft foods – Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman will be happy to give you a list of good foods to eat as we suggest the same thing for our Aurora patients after gum graft and dental implant treatment.
5.       Avoid citric and spicy foods and/or juices
6.       For denture patients, use them for meals only allowing your gums to rest when not eating
7.       Brush with soft toothbrushes and floss gently to avoid gum irritation – Stop by Periodontal Associates and we will give you a brush for free. 

Other side effects can be impaired taste buds, erosion of tooth enamel, and ulcerated gingival tissues.  Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman are gum specialists, and visiting them regularly is important.  Our doctors examine each patient at every visit monitoring the progression of gum disease, mouth sores, and oral cancers.  For discomfort, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman will not hesitate to prescribe or educate you in oral hygiene procedures, pain control medications, or oral mouth rinses to alleviate any tenderness.   Your oncologist should stress the importance of visiting your dentist before starting chemotherapy to discuss and prepare for possible mouth concerns. 
Periodontal Associates patients are treated more gently as many of our patients experience gum disease.  Our doctors and hygienists are specially trained to treat our Aurora patients more gingerly as many with periodontal disease or chemotherapy patients need special attention to overcome sensitive gums.  If you have any concerns about bleeding gums, mouth sores, tenderness, recession, or any discomforts in your mouth, do not hesitate to call Periodontal Associates and schedule an appointment with Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, or Dr. Eric Beckman.  We strive to offer each patient individual treatment plans that revolve around your personal health needs to offer not only protection and optimal health but also comfort and esthetics.
Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at (303) 755-45000, or browse our website at for more information.  Don’t be in the dark when it comes to your oral health especially when dealing with other diseases and medication uses.  Let Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman be a role in your team of specialists to provide you relief and health.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Mouthwash: Pros & Cons

“Brush and floss, brush and floss!”  Those are the words that are murmured over and over again by our hygienists here at Periodontal Associates, and in conjunction with that advice, Dr. Ken Versman, Dr. Doug Heller, and Dr. Eric Beckman always make a point to remind their Aurora patients about the benefits of using mouthwash regularly, especially for our patients who complete gum graft treatment.
Let’s first explore the plethora of positive outcomes that occur from mouthwash use.  Mouthwash is not used in replacement of brushing and flossing, but the ingredients found in mouthwash help prevent and break away tartar and plaque, freshen breath, reduce gingivitis, and prevent tooth decay.  This liquid is able to flow through hard to reach surfaces as an extra safety barrier against bacteria as brushing cleans only the cheek, tongue, and biting surfaces of the teeth.  Periodontal disease starts and does its greatest damage between the teeth so mouthwash is best when combined with regular brushing and flossing to reach those most neglected places.  Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman rely on such mouth rinses for their periodontal patients to fight inflammation, and many patients with gum grafts will use mouthwash multiple times a day to keep it clean as directly brushing around gum grafts is delayed during healing.
Are there cons to using this mouth rinse?  The problems with mouth rinses are very few.  The only concern to be aware of is for those with allergies.  As we age allergies can dissipate, but allergies can also first appear later in adult life as researchers believe it can be triggered by some sort of virus or infection.   Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman warn their Aurora patients to be proactive about their health and allergies as some patients can be allergic to antiseptic chlorhexidine and must be cautious about mouthwash.  Symptoms of mouthwash allergies can be the presence of a rash, itching or more severe reaction s can cause patients to faint or feel light headed due to a drop in blood pressure.  If you suffer from these allergies, please contact Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman at Periodontal Associates so they can help you find the best products to safely enhance your oral health.

As you have read, there are many more positive notions about using mouthwash regularly versus not at all, and researchers strive to only increase the benefits of this refreshing mouth rinse.  A new iodine mouthwash has been discovered to safely fight gingivitis while also lowering LDL cholesterol.  The Biomedical Development Corporation has already run a successful three month trial.  The center for Oral Health Research at the University of Kentucky will also continue to follow this new rinse in their own trials.  The iodine mouthwash is hoped to be used once a day for a 30 second time period.  The iodine helps the thyroid function which then boosts the body’s immune response system.  The mouthwash will not only fight bacteria in the mouth and gums, but it will also increase defenses again bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the entire body.   This is good news for Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman as many of our patients in the Denver metro area are at risk for other system disease due to their moderate to severe gum disease.  Research studies have shown that there is a strong association between periodontal disease and other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and respiratory disease.   
More effective oral hygiene products like mouthwashes will lessen the concern for gum disease and correlated diseases, but it is important to also visit your hygienists and doctors like Dr. Versman, Dr. Heller, and Dr. Beckman regularly for check-ups and cleanings.  At Periodontal Associates, we are specialists in treating and preventing gum disease, and we welcome questions or concerns regarding your oral health.  Please contact us at (303) 755-4500 or click here for an appointment.  For more information, you can also visit our website at Until then, please do not forget to brush and floss and, of course, rinse!