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Article: Volume 47 Number 10 Page 867 - November 2020

  Dent Update 2020; 47: 867-870  Read article

Periodontics/Prevention:  Mouth care for head and neck cancer patients – a dental hygienist’s perspective

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Abstract: A proactive approach to the mouth care of head and neck cancer patients, from their initial visit to their discharge, is vitally important. This area of care is complicated by many factors, of which some patients will not be aware when they start their difficult journey. This article is written to give the reader an insight into the dental hygienist’s perspective of mouth care before, during and after treatment and then graduating the patient back into primary care. The treatment for each head and neck cancer patient is varied, therefore the process of healing post-surgery and therapy can be complicated. Balancing patient’s expectations before and after diagnosis is a difficult task and may be impossible to predict, which makes this area of care complicated and involved for the dental hygienist.

Clinical relevance: The diagnosis and treatment of head and neck cancer takes place in hospitals and involves a team of clinicians, including dental hygienists. Once patients treated for such cancers return to general dental practice, it is essential that general dental practitioners (GDPs) and their teams have a clear understanding of how they have been treated and how GDPs and their teams can contribute to the patients’ aftercare.

Author notes: Jocelyn Harding, CEB DipDH, Clinical Ambassador for the Mouth Cancer Foundation, OMFS HNC Dental Hygienist, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Confident Dental and Implant Clinic, Gloucestershire, UK.

Objective: To provide an understanding of the complex role of a dental hygienist in the multidisciplinary team caring for a head and neck cancer patient.