Radiation therapy for head and neck cancers can cause dental problems, such as cavities, dry mouth, infections, and sore gums. At Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, we help you maintain good oral health.
Preventing dental problems
You can prevent dental health problems during and after radiation therapy. These oral hygiene tips can keep your mouth and teeth healthy:
- Avoid spicy foods, foods that may cut your gums, or sugary food and drinks that cause cavities
- Brush your teeth, tongue, and gums with an extra-soft toothbrush after every meal
- Drink plenty of water
- For a dry mouth, chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva or use a saliva substitute
- Floss your teeth daily
- Rinse your mouth regularly with a mixture of warm water and ¼ teaspoon each of baking soda and salt
- Don’t drink alcohol or smoke
- Use fluoride toothpaste and a fluoride rinse
See your dentist regularly for X-rays, cleanings, and fluoride treatments. If you have dental problems, your dentist may need to take extra precautions to protect your health – such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy after a tooth is removed to ensure your wound heals. Your care team will work closely with your dentist to keep an eye on your oral health to help prevent problems.
Smoking and alcohol cessation
Smoking and drinking alcohol are common causes of head and neck cancers, and they make cancer recurrence more likely. We understand quitting is difficult, but the team at Sylvester tries to make it a little easier for you.