CSN Login
Members Online: 16

DOES CHEMO DESTROY OUR TEETH?

RoseyR
Posts: 469
Joined: Feb 2011

Saw dentist two months before start of sandwich treatment but not since. It's been about a year and know I should go in for cleaning and checkup.

But am afraid to face likely need for major work as a result of chemo; have heard that chemo can wreak havoc on our mouths.

Can any of you report what kind of dental problems you had after chemo, if any?

Am broke enough from the holiday season without facing major dental bills. (Am lucky to have great med insurance, but dental is mediocre at best.)

Thanks,
Rosey

jazzy1's picture
jazzy1
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mar 2010

I was in middle of some major dental treatments prior to chemo --- implants. When hit with diagnosis, continuing dental work was put on the back burner. I stuck with every 6 month dental checkup the whole time in treatments and nothing new was found. Today 2.5 years post treatments I've had a long-time filling (20 yrs old) needed to be redone, but nothing else outside of routine checkup....yeah!

What you'll find each of us has different dental issues, don't think just because you have chemo your teeth expenditures will increase. Best to keep on routine checkups and catch things going wrong early.

Good friend of mine is a dental hygienist, below is part of her email info --

How Does Chemotherapy Affect the Mouth?

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. These drugs kill cancer cells, but they may also harm normal cells, including cells in the mouth. Side effects include problems with your teeth and gums; the soft, moist lining of your mouth; and the glands that make saliva (spit).

It's important to know that side effects in the mouth can be serious.

* The side effects can hurt and make it hard to eat, talk, and swallow.
* You are more likely to get an infection, which can be dangerous when you are receiving cancer treatment.
* If the side effects are bad, you may not be able to keep up with your cancer treatment. Your doctor may need to cut back on your cancer treatment or may even stop it.

What Mouth Problems Does Chemotherapy Cause?

You may have certain side effects in your mouth from chemotherapy. Another person may have different problems. The problems depend on the chemotherapy drugs and how your body reacts to them. You may have these problems only during treatment or for a short time after treatment ends.

* Painful mouth and gums.
* Dry mouth.
* Burning, peeling, or swelling tongue.
* Infection.
* Change in taste.

daisy366's picture
daisy366
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

I kept up with regular checkups and cleanings and had no unusual problems. Hope the same for you.

Mary Ann

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

I too started having problems with my teeth, which were well kept up, my gums hurt so bad had to take a viciden, throbbing so bad. I try not to eat food that requires too much chewing. Today is day 14 post chemo hiair is falling out, blah. Very emotional..

txtrisha55's picture
txtrisha55
Posts: 461
Joined: Apr 2011

Imackie48,
Sorry to hear about your hair failing out. This is about when mine came out. I had already cut my hair short and so did my family before starting chemo, so we could donate the hair. When it started coming out by the handful, I had my own party by myself. My sister and daughter did not know what I was doing in my room. I sat on the bed with a plastic bag and pulled the hair out. After I had pulled all the lose hair out, I got the hair cutting razor set it at the lowest setting and shaved the rest off. Man, my head was white! I eventually lathered and shaved all my head to remove all the hair. I tried to wear hats and scarfs but I could not because it bothered me. I just went bald. Got a lot of looks, but mainly from kids. When I went back to work, the group I work with had cut their hair too. It was a nice feeling to know that they supported me. So when you go to get your hair cut, make it a party, take family and friends for support. Sending (((HUGS)))) your way. trish

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

Trish, I cannot force myself to shave my head, let it fall,out by itself, I did cut it to about 1/2 inch. Many of my friends said they did the same?
I'm cold all the time I'll just be wearing hats through the winter.

txtrisha55's picture
txtrisha55
Posts: 461
Joined: Apr 2011

I can understand that as a lot of ladies cannot. I tried wearing hats and scarves but here in Texas but it was already hitting 100 in May. If it had been winter I would have worn hats and scarves. I guess I was luck as I did not get col but I sure did get hot a lot and nothing would cool me down. oh well it could be the region and the weather. Keep warm, wrap in a blanket and wear a wool hat. I will be keep you in my prayers asI do all the ladies on this site. trish

Ro10's picture
Ro10
Posts: 1575
Joined: Jan 2009

Sorry to hear about your pain. Glad you have something to help it. It does take time to adjust to losing your hair. We all know how hard it was for us.

I will soon lose mine for the fourth time. I have my supply of hats to wear. I never got the knack of tying scarves. I only wore my wig to church or special events. I miss my eyelashes the most. They have never grown back since losing my hair the first time. I am thinking of checking out permanent eye make up, but have not done it yet.

Hope you have a good day soon......then unfortunately it is time for another chemo! In peace and caring.

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

Ro, thank you for understanding I wish you were here to talk to, I feel so isolated, my white count is down, so I'm afraid of going in public of getting sick.
And few people come to visit. It's me and the computer and TV.

I've really bonded with my board friends.

Thanks,
Irene

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

Just came from dentist, he says I have an abscess in my tool canal I had done 15 yrs. ago, chemo didn't help, put me on strong antibiotic and going to call my oncologist, says it needs to be pulled. I was scheduled for chemo 2/1/12
I new I was dragging for a reason.

Ro10's picture
Ro10
Posts: 1575
Joined: Jan 2009

I can speak from experience. I was not on chemo at the time though. I did have an abdominal abscess though while on chemo. They think it was an infected lymph node 6 months after my hysterectomy. My chemo was only delayed a week, but I did not have the problems with my WBC like you do. Hope the antibiotics help your pain. Hang in there. One of these days you will have a good day. In peace and caring.

kkstef's picture
kkstef
Posts: 706
Joined: May 2008

Rosey,

I don't have the BEST teeth but I have not had ANY issues regarding my teeth since I completed treatment in Dec. 2008. I just go for my every 6 months cleaning and check-up so so far.... NO ISSUES...lucky to say!

Hoping for the best for you too!

Karen

JoAnnDK
Posts: 276
Joined: Jun 2011

I was told to have no dental work, including cleaning, during chemo, so went 8 months between dental visits. My gyn one's husband is a dentist and she told me he will not see patients during chemo, then I found out that mine would not either (not that I wanted to take that risk). I had just had a tooth pulled for an implant, so suffered with a hole in my mouth for over a year.

I have bad teeth. Always have. Chemo has not made them any worse.

Rosey, don't you work at Penn? You can go to the dental school there for dental work. It is well-supervised.

RoseyR
Posts: 469
Joined: Feb 2011

No, I don't work at Penn; am just being treated there.

Like you, I too have always had bad teeth: lots of cavities, three root canals--and right before chemo, FOUR extractions (two wisdom teeth, which need no replacement, but two upper molars, which probably do.)

So I too have gone nearly a year with two missing upper molars Yet have curiously had no problem chewing.

Also curious: for two days after my extractions (all done within an hour!). I felt better than I had in a year: lighter, with more energy. Two of those molars had had root canals, I'm nearly certain. So I can't help wondering if it's mere lore that root canals can "poison" the body, leading to much inflammation.

In fact, Jo Ann, since the two missing molars are not a cosmetic problem, am even wondering if it's safe to go another year or more without replacing them. (What in the heck is an implant made out of? Wonder how safe it is in the end.)

Thanks for yur message--and hope you're feeling well.

Rosey

JoAnnDK
Posts: 276
Joined: Jun 2011

You can go to the Penn Dental School even if you do not work there....I just thought you did. Anyone can go.

I had a hole in my mouth from an extraction for 18 months since I could not have it worked on during treatment. If it had been the furthest-back molar I probably would not have had the implant done, but it was an annoying hole.

With an implant, a device is first screwed into the place where the tooth used to be. That is left in place for a few months to be sure your body will tolerate it and to allow it to fuse with the bone. After that, an impression is done and a "false" tooth is made, and it is then attached to the screwed-in device. Titianium is used for the screw.

One of the reasons for waiting after the extraction is because the dentist needs to see if your bone is strong enough to support the implant. If not, they can do a bone graft to strengthen the bone. I am pretty sure that I had one and that they used bone dust instead of actual bone....

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

Going to dentist sat to have it checked out maybe my crown has something stuck in there causing the problems, my oncologist said never to wait. Check things out as soon as it occurs.

Kaleena's picture
Kaleena
Posts: 1338
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Rosey:

Sorry about your dental problems. After I read your post, one of my front teeth chipped and I just had to have it fixed. So while I was there, I did ask him if chemo has any effect on the teeth and 2) what about long-term effects of radiation. This is what he said to me:

1. Chemo really has no bearing on damage to teeth. However, if you do not have saliva or constant dry mouth, that is prone to cause more decay to your teeth. Your mouth has to stay moist to help eliminate the cavity causing germs.

2. With regard to radiation, unless it is given around your head and neck, it usually isn't seen as a problem for teeth. If you are having head and neck radiation though, it can cause variations in the saliva or salivary glands and cause the dry mouth, etc., which can cause decay. Also, there could be problems with getting root canals or implants if you have had head and neck radiation, and some other problems.

So for me, I guess I just have bad teeth. Also, for each time I was pregnant, I had a root canal. I have also had molars pulled. Also, I do not have dental insurance and those darn root canals can be very expensive.

My best to you, Rosey, and I hope your dental problems are simple fixes.

Kathy

P.S. On a side note, since you are on chemo or between chemo, you may want to have your teeth fixed because you do not want to get an infection from your teeth. They may also put you on an antibiotic too to prevent any infection.

RoseyR
Posts: 469
Joined: Feb 2011

Very useful information. Thanks so much.

It would be interesting to know how many of us who were diagnosed with uterine cancers have had root canal work--and how many of them. (I do know some adults even their fifties and sixties who have never had one!)

As you probably know, there's lots of speculation in alternative medicine on the potentially harmful impact they have on us systemically, causing inflammation and slow release of toxins in our bodies.

Many advocate having all root canals removed (teeth pulled) but it's hard to know whether they are merely fanatics or on to something. I do know I felt remarkably better when I had two teeth with prior root canals pulled. Much more energy nearly within a day. And I don't think it was psychological, for I was exepcting to feel horrid for a week or so.

Best,
Rosey

RoseyR
Posts: 469
Joined: Feb 2011

Very useful information. Thanks so much.

It would be interesting to know how many of us who were diagnosed with uterine cancers have had root canal work--and how many of them. (I do know some adults even their fifties and sixties who have never had one!)

As you probably know, there's lots of speculation in alternative medicine on the potentially harmful impact they have on us systemically, causing inflammation and slow release of toxins in our bodies.

Many advocate having all root canals removed (teeth pulled) but it's hard to know whether they are merely fanatics or on to something. I do know I felt remarkably better when I had two teeth with prior root canals pulled. Much more energy nearly within a day. And I don't think it was psychological, for I was exepcting to feel horrid for a week or so.

Best,
Rosey

Kaleena's picture
Kaleena
Posts: 1338
Joined: Nov 2009

Rosey:

I didn't realize there was a controversy about root canals. Very interesting. In fact, one of my root canals years later became really abscessed. I kept saying my face hurt and I felt a lump on the roof of my mouth. Couldn't find anything and at the time was suggesting that I might have a tumor on the roof of my mouth. A week later, I went in for more x-rays and found out I had a severe infection and that I had deep roots.

Come to think about it, it was about 3 or 4 years later that I was diagnosed with cancer. I still have about 4 teeth that have root canals.

Is there any controversy about implants?

Thanks for the info. Hope you are having a good day today.

Kathy

JoAnnDK
Posts: 276
Joined: Jun 2011

,,,uses a lot of alternative and complimentary therapies and he snorted with derision when I asked him this root canal question, about them poisoning us. Then he said something I will not repeat here about fanatics.

JoAnn

jazzy1's picture
jazzy1
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mar 2010

Holistic dentist? Had no clue they were out there.

When I asked my dentist about the fillings and what's in them, he tells me about the dental association and how all the ingredients are okay for us...no real findings with health issues. Yeah sure doc....I should really believe you????

In the end, we must be our own advocates as can't rely and trust what many docs tell us.

Jan

jazzy1's picture
jazzy1
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mar 2010

I've had root canals and 2 implants...all prior to my cancer diagnosis. With the root canals what I've found, they can leave some of the root without knowing it, which possibly cause infection and other issues. Docs are suggesting to have that tooth pulled vs. root canal procedure and then get a bridge if in middle of teeth lineup. Makes sense, but when they do a bridge even when removing one tooth, file down the tooth in front and back (either side of extracted tooth), basically making it thinner and less strong. I had a bridge done some 15 years ago and the one tooth in front that they filed down got bad and had it removed as well. Really can see why bridges aren't the greatest as well.

Another area to watch, materials they use in fillings...watch the mercury and BPA (plastic). More controversy!!

The bridge that went bad with the tooth I mentioned, I decided to do 2 implants. They are wonderful and oh so expensive (tune of $2200, plus crown at $800). I really need one more on the other side, but after researching I'm not having it done. Apparently the stems they use to drill in our bones are "titanium" which has been found to leak into our internal system and causing other health issues. Oh my gosh!! So today I'm missing a tooth on one side, but luckily in back where can't be seen.

Not only don't we get thru cancer and treatments, now must watch everything we do to our bodies and any consequences to our health. Never ends does it???

Best to all,
Jan

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

Had my root canal pulled yesterday, it didn't go easy, theI tooth broke into pieces and had to have stitches. Percent wouldn't even take the pain away. Now I can't eat again, just when I was eating, now this. I just can't get a break.

Irene

JoAnnDK
Posts: 276
Joined: Jun 2011

....because I have titanium hardware in a leg that I broke 15 years ago! Not about to get that stuff taken out. I suppose the one titanium screw in my mouth is nothing compared to what is in my leg!

JoAnn

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2453
Joined: Jun 2010

So sorry to hear that you're having such a tough time. Chemo sucks.

About 9 months after chemo, I had a root canal absess. I don't know if it was related to the chemo or not - I saw the dentist, the endodontist, and finally the oral surgeon and none of them said anything, but it still makes you wonder, doesn't it?

I also wonder if another contributing factor for me is lack of estrogen and its effect on bone density. Being post menopausal, then having BSO along with hysterectomy, and finally being on Arimidex makes me highly suspicious.

About your bald head - have you looked at Titillating Turbans? Honestly, they are my favorites, even if Laurie and I are friends. I wore them all through chemo and still wear them. They're very versatile, lots of different looks and so easy to wear. You don't have to do anything except put them on and tie the tie however you want. My second favorite was BeauBeaus. Again, so comfortable and pretty.

Ro - I got really good at false eyelashes. Mine came back but are really puny - just like the hair on the remainder of my body, including my head. Chemo sucks.

Hugs to you both,
Suzanne

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

Did you finally have it repaired or pulled.
Irene

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2453
Joined: Jun 2010

It couldn't be repaired. Haven't decided on an implant or not. It doesn't show, it's a little awkward, tho. I just don't want to spend the bucks on an implant.

Suzanne

jazzy1's picture
jazzy1
Posts: 1387
Joined: Mar 2010

My hubbie has an artificial hip and knee....stems are all titanium, too. We can all relate. The things we do to stay healthy and then realize after much research, it's unhealthy....gee!!

Hang in there!
Jan

Kaleena's picture
Kaleena
Posts: 1338
Joined: Nov 2009

Ports are titanium too. My port was titanium and I had it in for over 5 years (only used it for six months but had it flushed monthly). They just took it out and I really felt better once it was removed.

Gloria C
Posts: 23
Joined: Jun 2009

I've made it through chemo.....now have bleeding gums.....terified of dentists (makes no sense after what I've just gone through)......just dont want more pain to deal with.....constant pain already.....and add teeth/mouth issues???? is there no end????? any ideas as to getting the courage for yet more torture?

imackie48
Posts: 96
Joined: Nov 2011

Gloria, I'm with you, all I know is pain in one way or another, had this tooth pulled, extreme pain, chemo has been delayed 2 weeks, more pain, every time I eat I have to suffer, with throbbing pain, I've always took care of my teeth, now these chemicals are destroying them.
Hang in there,
Hugs to you, Irene

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2453
Joined: Jun 2010

Prior to cancer when gyn exams were infrequent, I used to say I'd rather have a Pap smear than my teeth cleaned. I've changed my tune. . .

Suzanne

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2015 © Cancer Survivors Network