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Oral Cancer

Oral Health Care for the Cancer Patient

Patient and DentistCancer treatment can affect oral health and cause a number of side effects:

It can be helpful to see the dentist before beginning cancer treatment.  When possible, cancer patients should have a dental examination two weeks before treatment begins to help identify and rule out any infections in the mouth.

Some side effects of chemotherapy can cause oral health problems (such as infection) which may result in stopping or delaying cancer treatment temporarily.  If the mouth is unhealthy before chemotherapy starts, the person may be at higher risk for other health problems. 

To keep the mouth healthy during chemotherapy and other cancer treatments:

It is important to discuss the best oral disease preventive strategies with your dental professional.  Ask if a prescription fluoride gel or rinse may be helpful in preventing the development of cavities.  Other suggestions are:

"Chemotherapy and Your Mouth" - a booklet of the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research - contains more information on health for patients undergoing cancer treatment.  This booklet is free, and 50 copies can be ordered from the NIDCR on the web link. The booklet is also available on this link as a PDF file to download and print out. These NIH/NIDCR materials are not copyrighted and duplication is encouraged.

Published with permission from Smiles For Seniors ... an oral health initiative of the Ohio Dental Association.

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Last Reviewed: Aug 04, 2014