How Does Head and Neck Radiation Affect the Mouth?Doctors use head and neck radiation to treat cancer because it kills cancer cells. But radiation to the head and neck can harm normal cells, including cells in the mouth. Side effects include problems with your teeth and gums; the soft, moist lining of your mouth; glands that make saliva (spit); and jaw bones.
It's important to know that side effects in the mouth can be serious.
- The side effects can hurt and make it hard to eat, talk, and swallow.
- You are more likely to get an infection, which can be dangerous when you are receiving cancer treatment.
- If the side effects are bad, you may not be able to keep up with your cancer treatment. Your doctor may need to cut back on your cancer treatment or may even stop it.