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Teeth Cleaning and X-Rays

BarefootBob's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: May 2012

Hello all. My Radiologist thought it might be a good idea to go get a thorough teeth cleaning and start using something called 'Fluoride Trays" every evening. Surgery for partial tongue removal and right/left neck dissection is June 21st. Should I not have x-rays done this time around just in case that the pathology on my nodes come back positive and I need to go through the radiation?
Diagnosis was SCC - T2N1M0.
Although - As I said in a previous post, there was only a 'Concern' for some areas on my 'Left' side of the neck...And I am still pondering a second opinion on this as well, but i digress.

More importantly has anyone else used these trays to help prevent any major Jaw mishaps in the future if say, I needed a root canal or cavity filled later in life?

Thank You,

Posts: 84
Joined: Aug 2011

This is becoming a pretty routine part of the process before starting treatment--a visit with a dentist to see if there's any work that needs to be done before starting radiation. It will likely include x-rays, but I wouldn't worry about that.

Fluoride Trays are pretty common. The dental oncologist I saw actually discouraged them during treatment because he said they created a false sense of security and people weren't maintaining good dental care. Nonetheless, most of us begin some sort of fluoride treatment (either trays or gel/toothpaste) to prevent cavities, which you will have an increased risk of because of the dry mouth and radiation.

Rick2924's picture
Posts: 23
Joined: Jan 2010

If you're undergoing radiation, flouride trays are a must in my opinion. After radiation therapy, saliva no longer acts as a buffering and lubricating agent. This loss of protection usually provided by saliva increases susceptibility to cavities. I began my treatment in August 2008 and have been using Prevident gel for 10 minutes a day. I also use Clinpro 5000 flouride toothpaste. I would suggest that you talk with a dentist who is familiar with head and neck cancer.

One of the side effects of radiation is that it will lead to a loss of vascularity in your jawbone. If you have any major teeth problems in the future and need to have an extraction, there can be healing problems. I had to have a molar in my mandible extracted because of a cracked root and had to undergo 40 hyperbaric oxygen treatments to help promote healing of the socket. However ordinary fillings and root canals have not been a problem. Bob, once you undergo radiation therapy, things will be very different. Good oral hygene is vital.

Best of luck with your surgery.

Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009

As mentioned, the fluoride is pretty common after rads to help protect the teeth. Also mentioned lack of saliva can let to cavities.

My dentist gives me a tube of Oral-B STOP when I visit.


You might ask your dentist while there, he may have it.


CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4317
Joined: May 2012

Hi Bob,

My rad onc made the dental appointment mandatory and she wanted a phone call form my dentist to confirm one new patent for the radiation train.

As for fluoride gel, my dentist gave me a bottle of it and I used some old whitening trays I had for application.

During radiation the technicians always had me insert four dental rolls (between the cheek and gum) to help protect my teeth from the zap.

You know, I would have thought all this radiation and lack of eating would have given me whiter teeth, but it hasn’t.

As for later in life, I have had a cleaning recently and the hygienist and dentist said all is good

You are welcome,


BarefootBob's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: May 2012

Great stuff to know, and will schedule an appointment for next week. I will let them know prior to cleaning about my situation so they are prepared. You guys are so great. Thanks again for all the wonderful advice.


BarefootBob's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: May 2012

Great stuff to know, and will schedule an appointment for next week. I will let them know prior to cleaning about my situation so they are prepared. You guys are so great. Thanks again for all the wonderful advice.


osmotar's picture
Posts: 1005
Joined: Jul 2011

My rad doc had me do the same thing in the short span of finishing chemo and rads starting. My dentist also gave me flouride trays, which during rads I used every day, he said I could now go back to 3 x's a week. I just had my first cleaning after rads, and I have to say the dentist I go to now is the first to ever put anything protective around my neck when doing exrays, I metioned something to the tech about it and he said they have done it for years and do it with every patient, and especially with someone like me who has had tonsil cancer and radiation..it's all to protect the thyroid.

Kent Cass
Posts: 1898
Joined: Nov 2009

Took me over a year after treatment, and a drive out to the University of Iowa to see the head Dental Doc at the hospital to learn that Flouride Trays have been the standard, there, before-during-and after treatment, for some 30-years. Prevident is what I use, and will for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, my dental care suffered more than mighta been necessary, because I was the one who had to inform my Dentist and rad Dr about the flouride trays- over a year after treatment! Glad to hear you are way ahead of me in being ready for it all.


Ingrid K's picture
Ingrid K
Posts: 813
Joined: Mar 2011

Hi Bob, i am so glad someone mentioned the flouride trays. I forgot to mention them to you when we talked the other day (because I have full dentures). So you will be very well prepared for battle.

Crazymom's picture
Posts: 339
Joined: Nov 2011


I have been told you have to use them or later on you will lose your teeth. My dentist who is putting caps on my back teeth so I won't lose them later, had a lady come in who had been cancer free for 14 years. She used her floride trays for 12 years and her teeth were fine. Then she decided she did not need the floride trays anymore. Now, two years later her teeth have decayed. The dentist is fighting to keep them, but it is bad. We have to have those trays or you will lose your teeth. However, during chemo and rads I did not always use mine because I had such an upset stomach. It did not hurt me to go without them during that process. I use them now everynight. Good luck with your treatments.


Crazymom's picture
Posts: 339
Joined: Nov 2011

I am scheduled for neck dissection surgery on the same day...June 21st. Good luck...Ann

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