Oral Cancer and Dental Health

Oral Cancer and Dental Health

Have you been recently diagnosed or in remission from head or neck cancer treatment? Cancer treatment specifically in the head or the neck area can have a severe impact on your oral health. Unfortunately, cancer treatment usually entails radiation therapy and that can result in the destruction or reduced function of your salivary glands.  If your salivary glands are not able to produce as much saliva, then your teeth will not be able to be remineralized from the saliva.  The resulting dry mouth increases your risk of severe tooth decay and eventual infection.  It is important to visit your local dentist before beginning any cancer treatment to ensure the best oral care possible.


Chemotherapy and radiation put cancer patients at risk for extreme oral complications such as mouth sores, dry mouth, sensitive gums, and much more. This increases the risk for complications, decreases the rate of healing, and increases the chance of infection. Preventative treatment is always ideal for cancer patients. For example, we had a patient that received a full mouth solution before starting cancer treatment. As you can see in the images below the patient had a successful surgery with no complications. This surgery was called an All on 4 procedure or generically known as a form of implant dentures. The dental implants were placed and a permanent prosthesis or denture was attached to the implants. This allows the patient to have the look and functionality of his natural teeth without the risk and burden of poor oral health during cancer treatment.

We also had a patient come to us after their cancer treatment had been completed. For example, the patient below had throat cancer and after years of radiation, he was finally in remission. However, due to these cancer treatments, he had lost a lot of teeth over the years. The patient was able to get single dental implants to replace a few of the missing teeth he lost. Replacing even two missing teeth will ensure that in the future if he ever loses more teeth he has options for full mouth treatment. Dental implants are more durable against cancer treatments than our natural teeth. 


Before dental implants


After Dental Implants

However, always keep in mind dental treatment options are limited during cancer treatment. Most treatments can only be performed before or after cancer treatment. To ensure the best oral health possible your dental oncology specialist should be seen as soon as you find out about your condition. Preventive treatment is always more effective than waiting till the issue becomes severe. Visiting a trusted specialist guarantees the highest quality of service to such a sensitive case. Finding a specialist with additional years of training ensures predictable results.