Your neck is extremely important because it’s what keeps our heads attached to our bodies. If you cut through the neck, the head will be severed from the body and the person will die. Your neck plays a very large role in your oral health, believe it or not, which makes it important to every part of our body. For example, cancer in the head or the neck creates a large problem for your oral health, especially through radiation and chemotherapy treatments and procedures.
Neck Cancer and Your Oral Health
Doctors conduct radiation treatment and therapy in the neck because it helps to kill the cancer cells. However, radiation in the neck can often harm the normal, regular cells. This is especially true when it comes to the cells that are in your mouth, which can give off side effects, such as problems with your gums and your teeth. This is also the same for the moist, soft lining in your mouth, your jaw bones and your salivary glands.
These side effects can damage and hurt your ability to swallow, eat and speak, and will put you at a higher risk for infection. This can be extremely dangerous if you are currently undergoing, or will be going through, cancer treatment. If these side effects become more severe, you may have to postpone or stop your radiation treatment altogether. This includes any treatment you are receiving for the cancer in your neck, really.
The Various Problems Caused by Neck Radiation
The following issues are typically caused by neck radiation, so if you are going through chemo or radiation and are wondering why the following problems have begun or are occurring over a period of time.
- Dry mouth
- Sore gums or soreness of the mouth overall
- Infections in your gums, such as gum disease or even an abscess
- Loss of taste or loss of taste buds
- Stiffness in the jaw, or lockjaw
- Changes in the way your jaw is structured or problems with your jaw bone
Over time you will be able to see and feel the majority of these problems, but if you are experiencing discomfort in your mouth in general, then it’s time to visit your dentist immediately.
Visit Your Dentist
Before you undergo any treatment for the cancer in your neck, you absolutely must visit your dentist. Your neck is one of the most important parts of your body, and when cancer strikes in that general area, you’re going to have a large impact on your oral health, as well.
By visiting your dentist before you can begin your radiation treatment and therapy on your neck, you will be able to effectively prevent multiple mouth problems that will be quite severe if they are not addressed. The side effects listed above will occur, especially if your mouth is not as healthy as it should be before your treatment begins.
Schedule an appointment with your dentist for a complete examination before your treatment. That way you can address and fix any oral problems that you are currently having. From there your dentist will be able to give you tips on how to handle the side effects and how to properly take care of your mouth during this difficult period.