Posted by Sarah Schuman, M.S. CCC-SLP on 8/21/2019 to General Medical and Dental Information
Radiation, commonly used in the treatment of head and neck cancer, may negatively affect healthy cells by increasing the production of the protein, fibrin which damages soft tissues in the treatment field potentially leading to trismus, or limited mouth opening. Trismus affects patients negatively by making it difficult to speak, eat, maintain good oral hygiene, receive dental procedures and it even has the potential to complicate intubation. In patients that receive radiation treatments, approximately 30% will develop trismus. If the treatment field includes the pterygoid or masseter muscles incidence rises to above 80%. Loss of maximal interincisal opening (MIO) is continual and progressive in these patients. Therapeutic exercises will need to continue for the rest of the patient's life! The good news is that trismus is preventable and treatable with exercise therapy using jaw motion rehab systems such as the OraStretch press.