The Importance of Pre-Radiation Oral Treatment

Going through cancer treatment is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you develop unpleasant side effects, especially in your mouth. Unfortunately, this can be a common problem when undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancer.

At South Bay Prosthodontics in Torrance, California, our experienced prosthodontists have advanced dental training that goes beyond general dentistry. In addition to providing comprehensive general and cosmetic dental care, we also offer pre- and post-radiation oral treatments.

If you have head, neck, or throat cancer, here’s what you need to know about how radiation impacts your oral health, and the steps you can take to protect it.

Radiation and your oral health

Radiation therapy is a powerful cancer treatment designed to deliver bursts of intense energy to precise areas of your body. This therapy destroys the cancerous abnormal cells, but it can impact healthy cells at the same time.

When you undergo radiation therapy on your head, neck, and throat, it can harm your salivary glands, interfering with their ability to produce saliva. Your saliva helps dilute the sugars you eat and balances the acidity in your mouth. When you have dry mouth, the bacteria in your mouth can flourish, putting you at higher risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

Another common issue seen with radiation treatments in these regions is reduced blood flow. Without optimal blood flow, you increase your chances of sustaining injuries in your mouth, especially infections in soft tissues like your gums, and you’ll heal more slowly.

How pre-radiation treatments can help

As part of our partnership with the radiation oncology department at Torrance Memorial Hunt Cancer Institute, we regularly provide pre-radiation oral treatments for men and women, and we strongly encourage them as part of your cancer care strategy.

During your pre-radiation oral treatment, we review the state of your teeth and gums, and we look for signs of disease or other dental issues. Based on your exam, we might recommend a variety of therapies, such as:

In many cases, we also take X-rays to evaluate the overall health of your jawbone before your radiation treatments begin.

Maintaining your oral health during radiation

Protecting your oral health from radiation therapy doesn’t end with your pre-radiation oral treatment. 

To maintain your oral health throughout your cancer treatment, we recommend scheduling regular dental visits for routine cleanings, maintenance, and additional fluoride treatments. As part of your oral health radiation strategy, we also recommend eating a healthy diet low in sugar and practicing good dental hygiene by brushing and flossing daily.

Being proactive and consistent with your dental care can help preserve your oral health in the long run and enables us to treat potential issues before they progress.

To learn more about pre-radiation oral treatments, call our Torrance office at 310-626-1791. You can also send a message to the team here on our website.

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