Tests and treatments

Oral care for radiation therapy in head and neck area

When is it indicated?

When is it indicated?

Possible effects of radiotherapy on the mouth

Radiation therapy is aimed at killing tumour cells but may sometimes cause undesirable effects in the surrounding area:

  • dry mouth
  • inflammation of the mucosa in the mouth
  • restricted mouth opening
  • taste changes
  • bad breath
  • sensitivity to hot, cold or spicy food

Read more below about preventative treatment in case of radiation therapy in head and neck area

You still have your own teeth

You still have your own teeth

Before radiation therapy

  • Make an appointment for a dental check-up. Infections will be treated and teeth with a limited lifespan will be removed.
  • An impression of your teeth will be made for the purpose of creating fluoride trays.

During radiation therapy

  • Ensure good oral hygiene (brushing teeth and interdental cleaning).
  • Do not smoke.
  • Install an air humidifier in your bedroom and living room.
  • Use the fluoride trays daily.

NOTE: using the fluoride trays does NOT replace brushing your teeth!

Teeth must be cleaned two to three times a day. Interdental brushes must be used to clean between the teeth.

Use of fluoride trays

  • When? After brushing your teeth, before going to bed.
  • How? Apply a thin layer of fluoride gel to the tray (not in excessive amounts).
  • For how long? Keep the fluoride tray in for five minutes every day. You may not rinse, eat or drink for 30 minutes afterward.
  • Take care of the fluoride trays: rinse and dry them daily.

After radiation therapy

  • Have dental check-ups every four months.
  • Use the fluoride trays daily up to six months after undergoing radiation therapy, then use them twice a week for the rest of your life.

You have dentures

You have dentures
  • Clean the dentures at least once a day.
  • Remove the dentures from your mouth a few hours every day to allow for rest.
  • Never wear the dentures at night.
  • If you have a small injury in the mouth or if you feel pain: have the dentures checked by a dentist.

You can download all this information in the form of the leaflet below:

Centres and specialist areas

Centres and specialist areas

Latest publication date: 16/05/2024