Oral Health Related Complications Of Breast Cancer Treatment

Oral Health Related Complications Of Breast Cancer Treatment

A manuscript recently accepted for publication by the US National Institute of Health brought to light some of the common oral complications of cancer therapy.  The purpose of the study was to identify the level of knowledge that a random sample of US-based dental hygienists had about providing the best level of care to breast cancer patients.

There are side effects and complications of breast cancer therapies that can have a significant impact on the oral health and oral health-related quality of life for the cancer patient. These include:

  • Inflammation and dryness of the tissues lining the mouth and throat
  • Dry mouth, a condition called xerostomia
  • Tooth decay
  • An increased incidence of bacterial, viral and fungal infections due to a lowered immunity caused by chemotherapy drugs
  • An increased risk of osteonecrosis (where the bone tissue dies)
  • Changes to the gum tissues which can cause bleeding or gum infections
  • A change in the sense of taste
  • Burning tissues

Other complications include

  • Joint pain
  • Pain in hands, which can make it difficult to brush
  • Jaw pain


The study described how important it is for the oncology and dental teams to communicate in order to provide the best quality care to the cancer patient. The medications used for therapy and types of complications that a patient can experience makes this imperative.

It is always important to let your dental health team know about your current general health status. Any information shared with your team will be held in the strictest confidence, and will be used only to ensure that you receive the highest quality of care.