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Some childhood cancer treatments can increase the risk for dental problems.
Regular dental visits and taking care of your teeth, gums, and mouth can help prevent dental health problems and detect conditions early when they may be more treatable.
Cancer treatments that can cause dental problems include:
Chronic graft versus host disease can also lead to dental problems.
Possible dental problems that may occur from chemotherapy or a transplant include:
These problems are more likely to develop in people who received chemotherapy over several years during childhood.
Some childhood cancer survivors may be at risk for oral cancer. These include patients who:
Signs and symptoms of oral cancer include:
If any of these signs and symptoms occur, contact a local dentist for a consultation.
Survivors can be treated for dental problems:
|Permanent teeth that do not develop normally||Caps or crowns|
|Poor bone growth in the face or jaw||Reconstructive surgery|
|Difficulty opening the mouth (trismus) or scarring and hardening of jaw muscles (fibrosis)||Stretching exercises|
|Malformed or small teeth||Bonding (a thin coating of plastic material on the front surface of the teeth)|
|Dry mouth (xerostomia). (Related problems may include persistent sore throat, burning sensation in mouth and gums, problems speaking, difficulty swallowing, hoarseness, or dry nasal passages.)||Frequent liquid intake, use of artificial saliva, sugar-free candy, proper brushing habits, daily fluoride (if recommended by dentist)|
Regular dental care is particularly important for survivors of childhood cancer. It should include:
It is important for you to take good care of your teeth and gums. Poor dental habits can lead to cavities, gum disease, and infection in the bones that support tooth roots.
Bacteria that normally enter the bloodstream during dental work may increase the risk of serious infections. Tell your dentist if you have had the procedures or conditions listed below because you may need to take antibiotics before dental work begins.
These conditions include:
Other conditions survivors should inform their dentist about include:
For more information, read Dental Health after Cancer Treatment from the Children’s Oncology Group.
Reviewed: June 2020