Coping with Dental and Oral Health in Childhood Cancer

Dental and Oral HealthSymptom Management, Palliative Care, or Supportive Care to relieve side-effects is an important part of cancer care and treatment and should always form part of the overall treatment plan.

Dental and oral health includes the well-being of the entire mouth, including the teeth, gums, lining of the mouth (mucosa), and salivary glands (the glands that produce saliva). Various cancer treatments may affect your child’s dental and/or oral health.

Dental and oral side effects may make it difficult for your child to eat, chew, talk, or swallow.

Although most of us only know about dentists and oral hygienists, there are also various other dental health professionals who can help with your child’s oral care before, during, and after cancer treatment, including:

  • Oral Oncologist: A dentist who specializes in the dental and oral health of people with cancer
  • Oral Surgeon: A dentist who specializes in surgery of the mouth and jaw
  • Periodontist: A dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating gum disease
  • Prosthodontist: A dentist who specializes in replacing teeth or other structures in the mouth


There are various side-effects caused by cancer treatment that can affect the mouth, including:

  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia)
  • Mouth Sores (Mucositis)
  • Tooth Decay
  • Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia)
  • Difficulty Chewing or Opening the Mouth
  • Infection
  • Bone Disease
  • Inflammation or Pain in the Lining of the Mouth and Tongue


Some of the side effects may disappear once the treatment is finished, while others may be long-lasting or even permanent.

It is important that you make an appointment with your child’s dentist at least four weeks before they are to start any cancer treatment.

If your child needs to have a dental procedure, such as the removal of a tooth, ask your dentist how soon after the procedure they can start cancer treatment.  Many oral oncologists recommend allowing at least two weeks for healing between dental surgery and the start of cancer treatment.


Read more about the Effects, Signs and Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment and more regarding Dental and Oral Health on our static page, Dental and Oral Health in Childhood Cancer



About LFCT

This is a blog about CHILDHOOD CANCER and CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Little Fighters Cancer Trust is a non-profit organisation that offers support and aid to Children with Cancer and their families. When a child is diagnosed with cancer it affects the whole family. One of the parents, usually the mother, must give up their job to care for the child and this creates financial problems for the family. In South Africa especially the majority of these families are not well-to-do; many of them are rural. A diagnosis of cancer can wipe out any family’s finances, let alone a poor family. The costs of special medications, special diets, hospital stays, transport to and from the hospital or clinic and accommodation and food costs for the mother who spends most of the time at her child’s bedside are astronomical. These are the people and problems that fall through the cracks, and these are the people that Little Fighters Cancer Trust has pledged to help in any way possible. LFCT takes a holistic approach to assisting the Children with Cancer and their Families, with the main aim to be the preservation of individual dignity and pride. Little Fighters Cancer Trust also focuses on promotion and advocacy of National Childhood Cancer Awareness in an effort to increase awareness of Early Warning Signs of Childhood Cancer. This would result in earlier diagnosis, giving the Child with Cancer more of a chance at Treatment and Survival. See "About" for more Background info

Posted on 3 June, 2016, in Blog and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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