Dental Care: Unmet Oral Needs of Patients With Cancer and Survivors

Colleen Palay

oral care, affordable care, unmet needs, dental care, dental insurance
CJON 2017, 21(5), 629-632. DOI: 10.1188/17.CJON.629-632

Oral and dental side effects of cancer treatment can be painful, impede function, and affect patients’ quality of life. Inclusion of the dental team is important prior to, during, and after treatment to manage temporary, chronic, or permanent sequelae of treatment. Separation of medical and dental specialties and models of insurance reimbursement make obtaining medically necessary dental care unduly difficult. Nurses are at the front line of care and in a position to identify oral side effects of treatment, provide education, and advocate for proper dental care.


  • Cancer treatment may have significant, long-lasting oral side effects.
  • Dental care by providers with a strong understanding of oncology is difficult to find.
  • Barriers to accessing dental care include lack of insurance, lack of financial means to pay for care, availability of providers, and cancer treatment.
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