Rapid dental deterioration after radiotherapy for oral cancer: a case report
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Rapid dental deterioration after radiotherapy for oral cancer: a case report

Sarah Jane Garner Specialty registrar, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
Alexander Gormley Academic clinical fellow, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK
Andrew Felstead Consultant, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust, Bath, UK
Lisa McNally Consultant, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, Bristol, UK

Why you should read this article:
  • To increase your knowledge of the oral side effects of radiotherapy to the head and neck region

  • To understand the rationale for pre-radiotherapy dental screens and post-treatment dental reviews

  • To enhance your awareness that patients require support to adhere to advice on oral hygiene and diet

Radiotherapy to the head and neck region has oral side effects and can lead to catastrophic dental deterioration, but this is largely preventable. This article describes the case of a patient whose dentition was irreparably compromised after radical radiotherapy for a soft palate cancer. The patient had a fairly well maintained dentition at the pre-radiotherapy dental screen, but the side effects of radiotherapy – notably dry mouth and reduced access to the mouth for cleaning – coupled with a high-sugar diet intended to aid recovery, led to the rapid progression of dental caries and tooth wear. Additionally, service restrictions due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic meant that his dental care was delayed. Eight months after completion of radiotherapy, all his teeth were deemed unrestorable. The authors discuss the importance of frequent and regular dental reviews to prevent rapid dental deterioration in patients undergoing radiotherapy for head and neck cancer.

Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2022.e1819

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

sarah.garner@bristol.ac.uk

Conflict of interest

None declared

Garner SJ, Gormley A, Felstead A et al (2022) Rapid dental deterioration after radiotherapy for oral cancer: a case report. Cancer Nursing Practice. doi: 10.7748/cnp.2022.e1819

Published online: 12 December 2022

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