The aim of this article is to review the clinical and biological features underlying the development and progression of radiation caries.
Although radiotherapy (RT) plays an important role in the management of patients with head and neck cancer (HNC), it is also associated with several undesired side effects such as radiation caries which is a common, yet serious, complication. To review the condition, the Pubmed database was searched using the keywords “radiotherapy,” “radiation,” “caries,” “hyposalivation,” “prevention” and “management”. Only studies published in the English language were selected. Cross-referencing identified additionally relevant studies.
RT leads to alterations in the dentition, saliva, oral microflora, and diet of patients. Consequently, irradiated patients are at increased risk for the development of a rapid, rampant carious process known as radiation caries. Motivation of patients, adequate plaque control, stimulation of salivary flow, fluoride use, and nutritional orientation are essential to reduce the incidence of radiation caries and ultimately improve the quality of life for HNC patients.
Radiation caries is an aggressive side effect of RT. Dentists play an important role in the prevention of the condition via comprehensive oral healthcare before, during, and after the active cancer therapy.
Dentists should understand the clinical and biological aspects underlying radiation caries to prevent the development of lesions and provide optimal treatment when needed.
Aguiar GP, Jham BC, Magalhães CS, Sensi LG, Freire AR. A Review of the Biological and Clinical Aspects of Radiation Caries. J Contemp Dent Pract 2009 July; (10)4:083-089.
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