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Oral Dis. 2008 Jan;14(1):40-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-0825.2006.01351.x.

Dental extractions and radiotherapy in head and neck oncology: review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Stomatology, Cancer Hospital A.C. Camargo, São Paulo, Brazil.


Management of irradiated patients with cancer in the head and neck region represents a challenge for multidisciplinary teams. Radiotherapy promotes cellular and vascular decrease that results in a low response rate in the healing. Consequently, surgical procedures in irradiated tissues present high rates of complication. Osteoradionecrosis (ORN) is the most severe sequelae caused by radiotherapy. It is associated with previous extractions especially those carried out post-irradiation. The management of this side effect is difficult and can result in bone or soft tissue loss, affecting the quality of life. The literature regarding dental extractions performed before and after head and neck radiotherapy was evaluated, focusing on indications, criteria, surgical techniques and adjunctive therapies such as antibiotics and hyperbaric oxygen. Osteoradionecrosis can be minimized by oral evaluation and care prior to irradiation and healing time which allows tissue repair until the commencement of radiotherapy. In dental extractions realized after irradiation, minimal trauma, alveolectomy, primary alveolar closure and adjunctive therapies are recommended. Patients must be evaluated before radiation therapy and at that time all unrestorable teeth and/or teeth with periodontal problems must be extracted to reduce the post-radiotherapy exodontias that contribute to ORN. Once dental extractions become unavoidable after irradiation, additional care is needed.

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