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  • Writer's pictureTiel

Sunscreen for your teeth

The long-term side effects of radiotherapy treatment lead many head and neck cancer patients to think about their teeth and oral hygiene more often than others.  So it was no surprise that 21 members joined the December meeting – our final meeting for 2023! – to hear from Peter Mac Dental Hygienist Shae Beaton. 


The long-term impacts from cancer treatment, from dry mouth to radio necrosis of the jaw, means head and neck cancer patients need to see their dentist more often, and need to see the right specialists if extraction or implants are being considered.  Saliva acts as a sunscreen for our teeth, buffers the teeth from acid and helps prevent tooth decay.  While many head and neck cancer patients suffer from dry mouth (reduced saliva), even those patients who recover well from treatment and don’t suffer from dry mouth can suffer from poor quality saliva and still face long term issues.    Significant procedures and surgery can add to the risk of osteoradionecrosis.  It’s important to get the right advice and then follow it!



Of course, getting the right advice is often the hard part.  Everyone is different and many histories are complex.  Head and neck cancer patients need to find a dentist that understands the risks post-treatment and avoid conflicting advice.  Your treating team should be able to help with this through simple measures such as providing treatment history.    Other organisations, such as Head and Neck Cancer Australia, are also doing work to increase awareness through the creation of GP and Dentist Education Modules.



The rest of the meeting was spent meeting new members and sharing our stories.  It’s been a big year for the group – 230 attendees across the 11 meetings, hearing from a range of head and neck cancer specialists - from dieticians to speechies, physio’s to dentists.  Ending the year on a high we wished Brett luck on his trek in Nepal, and (jealously) cheered Leeanne’s retirement announcement – I guess she’ll need all the time she can get with a new grandson due next week!


Merry Christmas everyone.  We look forward to the trekking and baby photos in 2024.

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1 commento

Nadia Rosin
Nadia Rosin
07 dic 2023

Well done Tiel, Lora and Team HNC Victoria - what wonderful support for your community. Have a well deserved break and we look forward to reading your updates in 2024. Team HANCA

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