Leukemia and Gingivitis
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Gingivitis Is Common in Leukemia Patients

Leukemia can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Gingivitis can be an early symptom of leukemia, especially in children. Data from studies of childhood leukemia have shown that about 25 percent of children with leukemia develop gingivitis as the first sign of cancer.

In leukemia patients, gingivitis occurs when leukemia cells infiltrate the gums, and gingivitis can become severe because leukemia reduces the body’s ability to fight the infection.

A patient with active leukemia who develops gingivitis may need to refrain from tooth brushing and flossing and wipe the teeth and gums with clean gauze. Because blood doesn’t clot well in leukemia patients, even gently brushing and flossing can cause too much bleeding from infected gums. Also, a dentist or dental hygienist may recommend a specialized mouth rinse to help control plaque while the patient is undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Once leukemia is in remission, most patients can follow a regular oral care routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing, along with regular visits to the dentist. Because of the plentiful blood supply to the gums, they can return to a healthy condition with proper oral care. For sensitive teeth and gums, choose an extra-soft or soft-bristled brush and soft floss such as Oral-B® SATINfloss® or Crest® Glide.®

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