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Xerostomia and Dental Problems in the Head and Neck Radiation Patient

Abstract

Head and neck radiotherapy is accompanied by deleterious effects of radiation to healthy tissues. The clinical consequences of the effects of radiotherapy on the salivary glands include a reduced salivary secretion (hyposalivation) and accompanying sensation of oral dryness (xerostomia) due to damage to the salivary glands, taste loss, and the lifelong threat of developing caries, oral infections, and osteoradionecrosis. While taste loss is a reversible consequence that usually subsides early in postirradiation, hyposalivation is normally irreversible. This chapter focuses on the long-term effects of radiotherapy on the salivary glands and dentition. The clinical picture of xerostomia and hyposalivation-related dental caries is described, and guidelines are given on how to manage xerostomia and how to prevent hyposalivation-related sequelae such as dental caries.

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Vissink, A., Spijkervet, F.K.L., Brennan, M.T. (2018). Xerostomia and Dental Problems in the Head and Neck Radiation Patient. In: Olver, I. (eds) The MASCC Textbook of Cancer Supportive Care and Survivorship. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90990-5_24

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