Radiation therapy, also called radiation oncology, is the use of ionizing radiation to treat cancer. Because radiation affects cancerous and healthy cells, your dental health has the same risk of being affected by radiation therapy. Below are side effects of radiation therapy on dental health.
Dry mouth and teeth decay
Radiation therapy, especially in the head and neck, can damage the salivary glands, which can cause thick sticky saliva and extreme dryness in the mouth. A dry mouth can increase your chances of teeth decay and infection.
Red and sore mouth and swallowing problem
Radiation therapy can cause sores in mouth which can result to difficulty when swallowing.
Damaged taste buds
Radiation therapy can damage taste buds, which leads to loss of taste.
Erosion of teeth
The destruction of teeth or cavities, which can occur due to dry mouth. That’s why it is recommended to use the fluoride treatment throughout life, prescribed by your dentist.
Radiotherapy can result to damage to the jawbone, called osteoradionecrosis. This is a rare but serious complication of radiation. Your risk of this damage is higher if you have bad teeth left in place when receiving radiation.
Some of the above side effects will disappear after you finish the treatment, while others may not go away as quickly as radiation therapy ends. Loss of taste, for example, may subside faster than tooth decay, which requires your help to return to control when you resume your regular diet.
Reducing Side Effects of Radiation Therapy on Dental Health
Maintaining your mouth in the best health state before, during and after radiation therapy / radiotherapy can help reduce some of the side effects and will allow you to focus on your overall healing. Plan the appointment of a dentist before you start it so that you and your dentist can work together as part of a dental care plan that keeps you and your mouth healthy and without complications.
Although the side effects may not painful, they can make it hard to talk, swallow or even worse prevent you from eating. If they become worse, radiotherapy may be decreased or even canceled until you improve.
When radiotherapy is indicated, it is necessary first to assess the health of the oral cavity, as well as during therapy. Your oral health is important to your general health with radiation therapy, so make it a priority.
Visit our box hill dentist partners and learn more about precautions and immediate remedies when exposed to radiation thus prevent or minimize dental health issues.