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Pre-chemo dental visit

Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

Just wanted to remind those who haven't started chemo yet to try to get to the dentist first.

My oncologist wouldn't let me go, I had emergency surgery, and it has been a year since last dental visit. Chemo is very, very hard on the mouth and teeth. I finished my chemo recently, was told by my onc.just yesterday that I could now go to the dentist. Praise be!! I have what feels like the beginning of an abcess on bottom right, lost a crown
( botton left) on way to onc yesterday, crown next to lost crown broke, crumbled and was swallowed this morning along with my yogurt.All I have to say is CRAP! I have no $$, no job..cancer surgery & chemo has taken that away. Now I am looking at the least probably a root canal and 3 crowns with insurance covering little.

Well, got that off of my chest:) Just wanted to give new folks a 'heads up'. Go to the dentist first if you can. Keep your mouth moist and drink lots & lots of water. Rinse with salt & soda solution couple times a day.Hoping no one else gets this tooth problem.


abrub's picture
Posts: 2146
Joined: Mar 2010

Yes, per Pat, go to the dentist BEFORE starting chemo, and if possible before you have your port placed. With your port in place, you may need prophylactic antibiotic.

Be sure to let your dentist know before you come in if you have a port or device implanted anywhere in your body!

Good luck, Pat. I hate that you're going through all this. My thought: shen the $h^t hits the fan, someone always turns the fan on HI.

msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

Yea, I even went to the dentist before starting treatment and had to have a tooth pulled in the middle of treatment. We left off the avastin and everything healed up just fine. I chose to have the tooth pulled as opposed to root canal/crown. Still kind of weirded out about the whole in my mouth where a tooth should be, but it's no worse than the topography of my post infection, ventrally herniated belly!

Posts: 211
Joined: May 2009

I have been going to the dentist while doing chemo. I go every 6 months for cleaning. My dentist and oncologist were both ok with this. I also have a port.

Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

I wish my Onc had allowed me to go to the dentist. She told me only if I got a bad toothache could I go. My bloodwork has been excellent each & every time since Dec.8th so I do wish she had ok'd it.

Hoping you are having a good day Brenda.


Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

Yes Mary, bucket loads.It is a humbling experience.It is times like this that I am glad that I'm not a real vain person because all of this crap is a real killer on the vanity.

Thinking about having these teeth pulled..both molars. The suspected abcess is too close to the front though and there is a limit as to how toothless I will go.What I am really scared of is when that shattered porcelain crown I swallowed comes out....

Speaking of topography....I have a scar that is so ropey that Tarzan could swing from it.


Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6650
Joined: Feb 2009

My goodness just lost all that was written but here we go again. You are right about the dental visits. Go just before chemo and after. My teeth were in good shape before going through chemo but then my gums became swollen and bleeding and dentist told me that seeing a specialist was a good idea (think that they are hurting for money and get a kickback). Asked dentist if my teeth were in trouble and he told me no, slight bleeding and little swollen but not in danger. Trying to do more things at home like stimulus picks and flossing more. Can't pay for specialist because don't have any insurance anymore. Get your checkups before chemo though. You are right. Things can happen during chemo and you want to keep things in check.


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maglets's picture
Posts: 2596
Joined: Jun 2006

Jaylo there was a thread...can't remember how far back but everyone agreed....chemo is very tough on the teeth and the dentists all deny it .....so for what it's worth you are NOT alone. After oxy I had 2 teeth pulled....they had crowns and root canals so there goes 3000.00 buckeroos down the drain. I continue to have cavities and my gums aren't great either. I get thrush easily.

also for those of you right in the middle of chemo....my teeth ached ached like the dickens on both oxy and 5fu....not just mouth sore but achey achey teeth and gums and jaws.

sorry not much help...no clever suggestions but you are not alone!!!

hugs mags

Posts: 217
Joined: Apr 2010

Such an important thing and no one told me to do this pre chemo. I remember reading in booklet after starting chemo. I lucked out and did not need dental work during chemo, but came close with sores. When I went to my dentist after chemo, he said that they should be getting a clearance from dentist before preceding with chemo. It doesn't guarantee things won't go wrong, but dentist should be in on process. Of course, dental work for most is a costly thing and therein lays another problem for lots of people when they don't need more issues.
Again, this is something that pre chemo people should be thinking about and this discussion at least would give them heads up to what happens to our mouth/teeth during chemo. Pat

Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm getting ready to leave for the dentist in a few mins. I'll let Y'all know if he has any words of wisdom on the subject. My hygenist told me all along that chemo is HELL-o
on the teeth and to drink lots of water which I do.Anymore water and I'd float. The whole time I was on chemo I had a coating in my mouth...sort of like thrush...but not as painful. I also had many bouts of downright sores/blisters...even down my throat.Guess that ate away at the teeth...that is my theory, anyway.


dianetavegia's picture
Posts: 1953
Joined: Mar 2009

Pat, check to see if there is a dental school near you. The free clinic where I volunteer sends patients to the dental college in Birmingham (113 miles). It's $80.00 for the first visit and then any work is done for pennies on the dollar or free. We're adding dental services (also free) to the Rapha Clinic before the end of the year.

I have always had trouble with my teeth and it took four full months for my gums to return to normal after chemo ended! My dentist said many people take up to 6 months.

Posts: 827
Joined: Jan 2010

Thank you Dianne! The UAB dental school in B'ham is about 5 miles from me.I took my boys there when they were children...don't know why I didn't even think of that this time..duh!

I just got back from my family dentist and he is in agreement that chemo DOES seem to cause some serious dental problems. He *thinks* that in my case the gums became swollen/inflamed and caused the sealant to crack under the crowns.He is a gem. One of the crowns was not even 2 yrs old so he is gonna do that one free. The other one was about 30 yrs old so I eat that one. Insurance pays a little over 1/2 on a crown. I left out of there $525.00 lighter.I can only do that one time.Good news is that there was no evidence of an abcess...just another loose crown causing the pain. WAH!

I admire the volunteer work you are doing.Bless you!


greybeard64's picture
Posts: 254
Joined: Mar 2010

I wish I would have been told before hand by someone about chemo/radiation and dental issues. very good advice!! Since I didnt know and then could do nothing (per ONC and Dentist) until all was "settled" I have lost two teeth had to have them pulled, I had holes forming near the gum line in at least fifteen teeth and had many teeth chip or break because they are just so fragile. In the 6 months it seems I have been living at the dentist office. Luckily my wifes ins. pays a decent percentage and I am now waiting for the last visit which will put a partial temp. plate in to fill the hole created when my right canine had to go bye bye.

Ahh, Cancer, the gift that keeps on giving!

I hope others take heed and follow your advice, I am sure some of what happened to me would have happened regardless of preventative care, you just cant subject yourself to that much toxinagins and radiation and expect to come out unscathed, but it would have certainly been less.
glad you brought this to light Pat

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