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Brushing your teeth twice a day is always a good idea. It is even more important for children under treatment for serious illnesses such as cancer and blood disorders.
Certain chemotherapy and radiation treatments can cause conditions to develop in the teeth, gums, and mouth.
Daily care of the teeth, gums, and mouth can prevent certain problems. It may also lessen some painful side effects. Poor dental habits can make problems worse.
Possible conditions may include:
Patients should visit the dentist regularly before, during, and after the completion of therapy.
If possible, have a dental exam before treatment begins. But a dental exam or procedures may not be possible after therapy has begun.
Braces and other orthodontic devices may need to be removed before treatment to prevent oral complications such as gingivitis, mucositis, and dental decay from occurring inside the mouth.
Families should consult their child’s care team about the timing of dental visits after treatment begins. They should also alert the team if any dental issues occur.
The dentist will work with other care team members. They will make decisions on dental care based on the patient’s current dental health and how treatment may have an impact. For example, the team may delay dental procedures when patients are at increased risk for infection or excessive bleeding.
Patients may develop dental conditions years after therapy is over.
If possible, you may want to look for a dentist familiar with the effects of treatment on oral health. The care team may have recommendations.
Tell your dentist about the treatment you received and share a copy of your survivorship care plan if you have one.
Poor dental hygiene can lead to cavities. A cavity could quickly become a serious infection in a child undergoing therapy. If an infection is not treated, it could spread and become life threatening.
Poor dental care may also lead to gum disease.
If problems occur, there are types of oral care and dental work that can help:
Reviewed: July 2022