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Childhood Cancer Therapy

 and Oral Care

Childhood cancer therapies including chemotherapy, head and neck radiation treatment, and stem cell transplants are associated with oral and dental side effects.


How does chemotherapy affect a child's oral and dental health?

Chemotherapy is associated with oral and dental side effects including:


How does head and neck radiation therapy affect a child's oral and dental health?

Head and neck radiation therapy is associated with oral and dental side effects including:

  • Mouth sores (mucositis)

  • Altered taste

  • Dry mouth

  • Oral infections

  • Painful gums and painful mouth

  • Dental and craniofacial developmental changes or delays

  • Osteoradionecrosis of the jaw 


Why visiting a dentist before starting cancer therapy is important:

Eliminating any sources of infection and ensuring that your child's mouth is healthy may help prevent or reduce the oral side effects associated with his/her oncologic therapeutic regimen.


When should your child visit a dental oncologist if he/she is receiving cancer therapy?

Ideally, the optimal time for your child to visit a dental oncologist is before he/she begins cancer therapy. Nonetheless, it is never too late to visit Dr. Levi. If your child is currently undergoing chemotherapy or head and neck radiation treatment and has not recently been examined by a dentist, it is recommended that you schedule a dental appointment for your child.


What will occur at the initial dental visit with Dr. Levi?

Dr. Levi will perform a comprehensive oral examination. She will review with you and your child any necessary dental procedures that your child may need to be performed prior commencing cancer therapy. She will speak with your child's oncology team about his/her cancer treatment schedule to discuss his/her dental needs as well as the ideal time to perform any necessary dental treatment. Additionally, she will show you and your child how to prevent him/her from developing cancer therapy related oral side effects and how to manage these side effects.


For more about childhood cancer therapy related oral side effects, visit Dr. Levi's blog post on how much do you know about going gold?


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