Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.Learn More
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:
Proper dental care is important before, during, and after cancer treatment.
In addition, your care team may recommend an oral rinse.
Drinking water, sucking on ice chips, and using candy sweetened with Xylitol can help manage dry mouth.
If you vomit, rinse out your mouth with water. Brush your teeth, if possible. Acid from the stomach can erode teeth.
Talk with your care team about ways to get enough Vitamin D and calcium to promote good bone health. Do not take supplements unless they are recommended by the care team.
Patients should visit the dentist regularly before, during, and after the completion of therapy.
If possible, patients are encouraged to have a dental exam before treatment begins. But a dental exam or procedures may not be possible after cancer 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 cancer 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 cancer 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, survivors may want to look for a dentist familiar with the effects of childhood cancer treatment on oral health. The care team at the pediatric center may have recommendations.
Survivors should tell their dentist about their cancer treatment and share a copy of their survivorship care plan.
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: March 2019