Radiation therapy for head and neck cancers can cause increased dental problems. At Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, we help you prepare for these possible problems and improve your oral health.
After radiation therapy, you may experience dental health problems like:
- Dry mouth
- Gum or mouth infections
- Sore gums
Prevention of Dental Problems
You can take steps to prevent dental health problems during and after radiation therapy. To keep your mouth and teeth healthy, you should:
- Avoid spicy food that irritate the mouth
- Avoid sharp foods that could cut the gums
- Avoid sugary foods and beverages that cause cavities
- Brush your teeth, tongue, and gums with an extra-soft toothbrush after every meal
- Chew sugarless gum to encourage your mouth to produce saliva
- Drink plenty of water
- Floss your teeth every day
- Rinse your mouth regularly with warm water and ¼ teaspoon each baking soda and salt mixture
- Stop drinking alcohol and smoking
- Use a saliva substitute to prevent dry mouth
- Use fluoride toothpaste and at-home fluoride treatments
You should see your dentist regularly for X-rays, cleanings, and fluoride treatments. If you do develop dental problems, your dentist may need to use specialized treatments. For instance, if you have a tooth removed, you may need hyperbaric oxygen therapy to help the wound heal safely.
Your care team will work closely with your dentist to monitor your oral health and help you avoid dental problems.