Oral care before head and neck radiotherapy

Radiotherapy may be required for treatment of head and neck tumours. During the procedures, normal tissues lying along the irradiation pathway will inevitably be affected. This may give rise to

  • decrease in saliva secretion
  • change in taste sensation
  • difficulty in opening the mouth
  • inflammation of the oral mucosa (including the tongue and gums)
  • destruction of some parts of the jawbones

Nevertheless, as long as you have adequate psychological preparation and knowledge on how to take care of yourself, then all kinds of discomfort can be minimized. Therefore, before receiving head and neck radiotherapy, the patient should go to see a dentist.

  1. Examination of the oral cavity
    The dentist will carefully examine your mouth, and will give you advices on oral care in order to prevent tooth decay and gum disease that may be arisen from the reduction of salivary flow.
  2. Receiving dental treatment
    If there is dental disease, the dentist will carry out treatments such as extractions, fillings or scaling etc appropriate to your oral condition. This can avoid dental treatments like extraction of tooth to be carried out after radiotherapy, because such dental treatments may induce adverse side effects to your body.