Manage Oral Complications with a Dental Oncologist

Your oral health is always extremely important, but when a person is diagnosed with cancer, it becomes vitally important. Dental oncology is an area of dentistry focused on treating the unique dental and oral health needs of patients in all stages of cancer treatment.

Before cancer treatment, particularly head and neck radiation, intravenous bone strengthening medications (also called antiresorptive medications or bisphosphonates), and pre-stem cell transplants, a dental oncologist can help educate the patient on what to expect with regards to their mouth during and after treatment. The doctor will discuss ways to diminish side effects caused by cancer treatments, such as radiation mouthguards to help diminish mouth sores from radiation, also called mucositis.

Certain treatments, like radiation to the head and neck or antiresorptive medications, can put patients at significantly higher risk of developing a serious bone healing condition when teeth are pulled. Ideally, teeth that are not in long term optimal condition should be removed prior to beginning treatment and are best treated with socket replacement grafts involving the patient’s own blood stem cells.

During cancer treatment, dental oncologists help to manage oral side effects such as severe mouth sores and dry mouth. After cancer treatment, patients are at an increased risk of developing both cavities and periodontal disease. Dental oncologists give patients the tools necessary to maintain their oral health, and provide general dental care, while keeping in mind the safety of dental treatments given their cancer history.

Dr. Haley Freymiller is a Memorial Sloan Kettering trained dental oncologist practicing at Smile Design and Wellness Center in Viera. She adds this knowledge to her comprehensive training in technology and general dentistry. For more information or appointments, call 321-751-7775.

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