• Dental Hygiene

  • Dentistry at Penrose Cancer Center Colorado SpringsThe dental oncology support program at the Penrose Cancer Center is available to patients who have special dental needs involving their cancer treatment and is available before, during and after treatment to help lessen the side effects caused by cancer treatment. The health status of the oral cavity greatly influences a patient's nutritional status, level of comfort and ability to communicate. In addition, the mouth is an important potential source of systemic infection in the compromised patient.

    The dental oncology support program at Penrose Cancer Center is not intended to replace regular visits to the dentist. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: What services does dental oncology provide?
    A: A comprehensive dental exam is ordered by the attending radiation oncologist for all patients with a diagnosis of head and neck cancer. The purpose of the dental evaluation prior to head and neck radiation is to prevent long term complications and improve the quality of life before, during and after radiation treatment. The dental hygienist performs many functions for the oncology patient including a comprehensive oral exam to determine the present conditions of the teeth and gum. A through prophylaxis ("cleaning") is required prior to radiation therapy to lessen the bacterial load of the oral cavity. Impressions of the teeth are taken to make custom mouth guards.  Mouth guards are used to minimize scatter radiation from metal fillings and crowns that can damage the lining tissues of the mouth.  Custom fluoride trays are also made to prevent rampant tooth decay associated with xerostomia from damage to salivary glands. 

    Q: Why is dental hygiene important while undergoing treatment for cancer?
    A:
    Weekly oral care and palliation of oral complications associated with radiation reduces  xerostomia (dry mouth), mucositis (mouth sores), bacterial and fungal infections.

    Q: What makes dental oncology different from a normal dentist?
    A:
    Dental oncology has only recently become a focus in the academic world of dentisty. Dental Oncology does not provide standard services as a normal dentist but only services to minimize the complications from radiation and chemotherapy. 

    Q: What do patients need to do get an appointment?
    A:
    Referral from a PCC radiation oncologist:  Drs. Peddada, Monroe, Tanner.
    A referral form for medical oncologists and physicians may become available in the future.

    Q: Is there a cost associated with your services?
    A:
    No. 

    Other Resources
    Oral Head and Neck Alliance 
    Oral Cancer Foundation Support Group

     

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