How Do Dentists Treat Them? But like a nagging little grain of sand in your shoe, this question of radiation can be frustrating because the general public has a fear of it. So I think great dental hygiene is important plus visits to your dentist. Radiation of the head and neck regions is associated with a large number of side effects, chief among which is rampant tooth decay. If you receive high-dose radiation treatment, you'll have an increased risk of caries moving forward, so it's all the more important to take steps to prevent tooth decay. It also provides detailed instructions about how to care for your mouth to help prevent tooth decay and deal with side effects such as mouth sores. That can affect your gums and the lining in your mouth. With a weakened immune system, even the good bacteria in the mouth can cause infection. Silva helps keep the mouth healthy, healthy mouth = healthy teeth. Having good oral hygiene is important in lowering your risk of these conditions. When I started radiation, my teeth were strong and healthy, at 36, I had never had a cavity. Here's what to watch for and what you can do to prevent these complications. When undergoing radiation treatment for cancer, there are some lesser-known side-effects you should be aware of. Radiation therapy can affect your emotional and mental health. The following signs and symptoms being described can be seen in patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation or both. If your gums are sore as a result of radiation therapy, your dentist may recommend using an extra soft-bristled toothbrush such as Colgate® 360°® Enamel Health™ Sensitive. Not directly, but the side effects can give you extremely dry mouth, which will cause damage to your teeth. (4) How bad your teeth are and will get is entirely unique to you and what type/strength/location of mainly radiation. I knew that radiation and loss of saliva could cause damage but I had no ideas to this level. Some will disappear after you've finished your treatment, whereas others may not go away as quickly when radiation treatment ends. This decay can have serious effects on your oral health, but with your dentist's help, it can be kept under control. In addition, radiation therapy, especially in the area of the head and neck, can damage salivary glands which can cause thick, sticky saliva and extreme dry mouth. Schedule a dentist appointment before you start your treatment (if you haven't yet, book one right away), so that you and your dentist can work together on a dental care plan that keeps you and your mouth healthy and complication-free. Fillings are used for small areas of decay, whereas crowns are used for larger areas of decay that have compromised the tooth's structure. But radiation to the head and neck can harm normal cells, including cells in the mouth. Saliva does more than just moisten your mouth; it has antimicrobial proteins that help to keep decay-causing bacteria under control, as well as mineralizing components which help to keep your tooth enamel strong. If the decay is left untreated, it can lead to an abscess (infection), and your tooth may need to be extracted – so don't put off these necessary office visits. Learn more about our commitment to oral health education. Your dentist will identify and treat any problems you're experiencing, show you how to prevent or manage them, watch for any changes in your mouth and teach you various jaw exercises to minimize the lingering stiffness. Talk to your healthcare provider if you feel angry, scared, helpless, depressed, or frustrated. Once the decay passes through your enamel and into the sensitive tissue inside, however, you do feel pain and sensitivity in the affected teeth. All rights reserved. Take a look at my diagnosis journey for head and neck cancer, I have detailed logs of my experiences with having them all surgically removed, dentures, posts, etc. Likewise, certain kinds of radiation therapy can cause pain and stiffness, and even contribute to cavities in your teeth because of dry mouth . This is no doubt a challenging time, but visiting your dentist is just as important as seeing your primary doctor. This can upset the healthy balance of bacteria. Radiation causes a lot of changes inside your mouth that make you more susceptible to tooth decay, according to the National Cancer Institute. And just like you would otherwise, take special care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing gently. I didn't have problems with infections in my gums. Though, you'll want to check with your doctor before consuming any supplements. Here are four things radiation patients need to know about this oral health issue. Because radiation affects healthy cells in addition to cancerous ones, your teeth, gums, jaw bones, salivary glands and lining of your mouth are at similar risk for problems during a treatment like chemotherapy. So radiotherapy is likely to make your mouth sore and you might have ulcers after a week or so. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Effect of Chemotherapy and Radiation on the Teeth. Your oral health is vital to your overall health when receiving radiation treatment, so make it a top priority. Radiation damages your salivary glands and leads to xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, which has a lot of additional effects other than making your mouth uncomfortable dry. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may cause changes in the lining of the mouth and the salivary glands, which make saliva. But surprisingly, it often leads to a number of side-effects inside your mouth, including radiation caries, a type of rampant tooth decay that occurs following treatment. Late effects of radiation and surgery will affect only the area of the body exposed to them. This increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Learn more about our commitment to oral health education. Radiation therapy to the mouth may increase the chance of tooth decay or other problems in the future. Some radiation side-effects can even cause your treatment to delay or stop altogether. And because this type of decay is rampant, you may notice symptoms in more than one tooth. flow of saliva as it causes damage to major and minor salivary glands Because prevention starts at home, ensure that you brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, and floss daily. In the early stages, you may not notice any symptoms. But chemo affects them too. During and after treatment a dentist can help check for and treat any problems that may come up, such as infection or tooth/bone damage. Have questions about your smile? Colgate Reaches Children in Need Across the Globe With the Power of a Bright Smile. The saliva may feel thick and sticky or the mouth may feel dry. The gums, tongue, and the inside of the cheek make up the oral mucosa. Because radiation affects healthy cells in addition to cancerous ones, your teeth, gums, jaw bones, salivary glands and lining of your mouth are at similar risk … You will need to have a thorough dental check-up and may need to have any decaying teeth removed before treatment starts. Sore mouth and problems with your teeth. At the time, research studies did not achieve any reproducible results, which engendered much skepticism among medical personnel. Whether radiation caries are caused by radiation-induced salivary dysfunction or direct radiation damage to teeth, the proper use of daily fluoride will significantly improve the overall quality of life for head-and-neck radiation patients. © YYYY Colgate-Palmolive Company. Chemotherapy can affect blood counts including white blood cells and platelets. Several oral problems can occur during high-dose chemotherapy. Your dentist may also recommend special fluoride … This is called oral mucositis. The cells lining your mouth are sensitive to radiation. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO) was first proposed as a treatment for cancer and other conditions in the 1960s. This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It’s important to know that side effects in the mouth can be serious. At home, take a look inside your mouth every day to check for unusual mouth sores and other abnormalities that should be brought to your dentist's attention. If your jaw is exposed to radiation, the risk that your dental implants will fail is doubled or even tripled. Tooth decay: Radiation can cause major tooth decay problems. A dentist can make sure your mouth is healthy before treatment. Colgate Reaches Children in Need Across the Globe With the Power of a Bright Smile. • The side effects can hurt and make it Your dentist can provide an oral health care plan, which outlines any dental work you need before having radiation therapy. In fact, some of the more serious mouth problems caused by radiation can be prevented as long as you make a point to see your dentist before you start treatment (at least two weeks prior is best) and continue your checkups during and afterward. Have questions about your smile? Long-term damage to teeth and gum health can also occur, potentially requiring time consuming and costly dental care long after cancer treatments are complete. 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