Dental Care of Oral Cancer Patients
Most patients with head and neck tumors will receive either surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or a combination of modalities to treat the disease. All these therapeutic interventions can affect dentition or the dental condition can affect the outcome of the treatment. It is therefore essential that a complete and thorough dental examination and preventive interventional are carried out along with cancer treatment. It is important for the dentist to identify and eliminate any situations in which the patient’s dental condition will be exacerbated by cancer therapy or treatment of such condition will have potential negative sequel, for example, the extraction of a tooth in the field of radiation and postradiation and the potential of development of osteoradionecrosis of the jaw. It is also very important for the dentist to educate the patient on the importance of oral hygiene during cancer treatment and to provide preventative measures to help combat possible side effects of cancer treatment such as xerostomia and trismus. The role of the dental clinician is further complicated by the lack of current literature and a lack standardized approach to minimizing morbidity, extraction of teeth prior to and posttreatment, and management of osteonecrosis, trismus, xerostomia, and rehabilitative services to maximize a patient’s quality of life.
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