Osteoradionecrosis is a possible complication following radiotherapy. Irradiation of bones causes damage to osteocytes and impairs the blood supply. The affected hard tissues become hypovascular (reduced number of blood vessels), hypocellular (reduced number of cells) and hypoxic (low levels of oxygen). Osteoradionecrosis is the term for when the area of bone does not heal from this damage. This usually occurs in the mandible, and causes chronic pain and surface ulceration. Prevention of osteradionecrosis is part of the reason why all teeth of questionable prognosis are removed before the start of a course of radiotherapy.
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