• Amy Grebenow

Affects of Head and Neck Cancer Treatment on your Oral Health

As if having cancer treatment isn't awful enough, certain cancer treatments can have side effects that affect your oral health. The two that can have the most affects are head and neck cancer treatments. Because the targeted areas of those treatments are so close to or includes the mouth, your oral health can suffer. So what are the kind of things that can happen? The list includes, but is not limited to, oral sores, dry-mouth, tooth decay, and oral infections.


Oral sores are pretty common for those cancer treatments. They can come up as red irritated areas or in some cases actual open sores. There are medicated gels and creams that can be prescribed to help out when these sores arise.


Dry-mouth is another common affect of head and neck cancer treatment. This happens because the salivary glands can become damaged in the process of treating the cancer. At home remedies include chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on ice chips. If it is more severe, your dentist might look into artificial saliva.


Tooth decay is one that kind of goes hand in hand with the damaged saliva glands. Saliva is important in oral health in the fact that it helps wash away food particles as you eat so bacteria doesn't grow. Not only that, but saliva also contains fluoride. Fluoride is an agent that acts as a shield to protect teeth from cavities.


Oral infections are another thing you have to keep an eye on with the cancer treatment. Infections, such as thrush, can come up with treatment. Thrush is a yeast infection that develops in the mouth. It can be treated with creams, gels, or mouth rinses.


If you are going through treatment or are expecting to go through treatment, let your dentist know. They can be a great resource for you to aide in the recovery process for your treatment.



The information in this article was found in the Journal of the American Dental Association.