Children’s Oral Health and Cancer CareBy Cindy Fulenwider Greene, DMD
Developing Oral Complications During Cancer Treatment
When it comes to children’s oral health, each year in the U.S. there are an estimated 15,780 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. Approximately 1 in 285 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer before their 20th birthday.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and as we work to spread awareness on this horrible disease, BGW Dental Group is working to help find a cure. For every Google Review received during the month of December, BGW Dental Group will be making a donation to the Atlanta-based non-profit CURE which is seeking to find a cure for childhood cancer.
We at BGW Dental Group work with a number of cancer patients throughout the north Georgia area in preventing additional complications either during, before or after care. Unfortunately, cancer patients of all ages are at risk of developing oral complications during cancer treatment. Aggressive treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy can lead to the development of tooth decay, periodontal disease or pathologic lesions of the hard and soft tissues in the mouths of adults and children. Some of these oral conditions can cause permanent damage to the structure and function of the oral cavity. In children especially, this can lead to long-term complications. As oral health professionals, we at BGW properly assess and treat the mouth before, during, and after cancer treatment in order to enhance the patient’s quality of life and improve their overall treatment outcomes.
Before Cancer Treatment
Before your child begins cancer treatment, you should make an appointment for a dental exam one month in advance, if possible. A dental exam will help identify existing risk factors, oral treatment needs and oral care recommendations that are necessary prior to your child beginning treatment. The dentist will also be able to conduct an oral cancer screening to check for any signs that cancer may be present in the mouth.
During Cancer Treatment
During your child’s treatment, you should consult with your child’s care team to determine the timing for dental visits. Based on the impact of the treatment, we at BGW Dental Group can decide the best course of action when it comes to dental care. If any dental complications occur during treatment, your dentist should be notified.
After Cancer Treatment
When your child’s cancer treatments are completed, an oral health professional will monitor them closely for dental conditions caused by treatment. These conditions can still occur years after therapy is over. Make sure your dentist is aware of your child’s cancer treatment and visit them regularly in case problems occur and for the overall health of your child.
Health Tips You Can Do On Your Own:
- Brush teeth twice a day and make sure to switch out the toothbrush every two months
- Floss daily, unless your care team tells you otherwise
- Avoid food that will dry out the mouth and cause cavities, like sodas and candy
- Visit the dentist regularly
Dental care is such an important factor for the health and safety of your child before, during and after cancer treatment. Be sure to make an appointment with your dentist today to discuss this matter and the plan of action.