Last Modified: June 8, 2012
Is it safe to go to a dentist when I am getting radiation or chemotherapy for pharyngeal cancer? Will my dentist know what to do or even want to see me?
Alexander Lin, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:
We recommend seeing a dentist prior to starting chemotherapy and radiation. The known side effects of radiation include dry mouth, which, over time, can lead to an increased risk of cavities, which may require extractions. Extractions that are performed at any point after radiation therapy, can be risky, due to the increased risk of poor wound healing and jaw damage from extractions after radiation.
Our dentists, when performing a pre-radiation dental evaluation, will help provide an action plan to take great care of your teeth during and after radiation (often with the use of supplemental fluoride on a daily basis), with the goal of minimizing future risk of cavities, and minimizing the need for teeth extractions.
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Head and Neck Cancer Q&A Webchat transcript.