Oral hygiene helps even in difficult situations!
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
Patients with malignant haematological disorders usually receive high-dose chemotherapy as part of their treatment. One negative side effect of high-dose chemotherapy is the occurrence of oral mucositis. Oral mucositis is an inflammation of the oral mucous membrane, which may involve swelling, reddening, severe pain and/or problems during eating. In addition, the open sites in the oral mucous membrane may result in severe inflammations and infections. In short, anything that could reduce the occurrence and/or the severity of oral mucositis will help with the treatment of patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy.
A Turkish research group has recently investigated (Sabanci et al. 2022) whether the oral health of patients with haematological disorders who are given high-dose chemotherapy influences the occurrence, severity, and healing process of oral mucositis. In order to do this, they examined 55 patients with haematological disorders for gingivitis and periodontitis before they started chemotherapy. The patients were then monitored for the occurrence of oral mucositis during the chemotherapy. This revealed some interesting results:
- In total, 22 patients (40%) developed oral mucositis during the chemotherapy.
- The patients who developed oral mucositis displayed significantly higher bleeding/inflammation indices during the dental examination before the start of chemotherapy.
- Patients with gingivitis and periodontitis were significantly more likely to suffer from oral mucositis and the healing process after the occurrence of oral mucositis lasted significantly longer in comparison with patients with healthy periodontal conditions.
This study shows once again that dental health professionals can be helpful for various cancers and corresponding cooperation can be quite productive. If there is close cooperation and/or if dental professionals are involved in the interdisciplinary treatment team, there can be rapid diagnosis and any treatment that is needed can be started quickly. This could, for example and as indicated in this study, result in reduced occurrence of oral mucositis during high-dose chemotherapy.
- Sabancı A, Karasu B, Sabancı HI, Kuku İ, Kırmızıgul OA. Impact of periodontal status on the oral mucositis in patients receiving high-dose chemotherapy. Clin Oral Investig. 2022 Oct; 26(10):6341-6346. doi: 10.1007/s00784-022-04588-6.