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Sunday, August 02, 2009 Uid, Community Member, asks

Q: Dental problems after chemotherapy & radiation

Has anyone experienced dental problems after undergoing chemo & radiation?  My

treatments after a lumpectomy last year were chemo & radiation which took most of

2008.  This year, I am having problems with infections under root canals and crowns and will have to have 2 of these extracted.  I'm wondering if the treatments caused any of this? 

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Answers (4)
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
8/ 3/09 5:47am

Uld, yes, the chemo could have contributed to your dental problems.  This post on Chemo and Your Teeth explains why it's a good idea to see a dentist before chemo starts.  It's too late at this point to help you, but you can pass the word along to other people you know getting ready to start chemo about how important it is to see a dentist.  Do keep in mind, however, that you might have needed these procedures even without chemo, and without the treatments, you might not have been around to have trouble with your teeth.

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cva66, Community Member
2/13/10 5:52pm

I'm addressing this issue on behalf of my wife. She had a lumpectomy followed by five weeks of radiation, no chemo.

Most of the responses are about chemo related problems. Do you folks see a link between radiation treatments and dental problems?

 

Thanks, and the best of luck to you all.

 

Walt

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
2/13/10 7:18pm

Hi Walt - Found this on another site:

"Dental problems can arise following radiation treatment (without chemotherapy). It is not clear why, possibly because radiation treatment compromises the immune system’s ability to deal with dental bacteria and possibly due to residual radiation, notwithstanding the capacity of more recent radiation delivery to be more specifically targeted. I have been advised by my dentist (too late to protect myself unfortunately) that steps can be taken to protect teeth during radiation treatment. Use a higher fluoride toothpaste; and a mouthwash with added fluoride and ensure your comprehnsive tooth care is maintained."

 

Hope this helps - PJH

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DEBBIE, Community Member
11/ 2/10 7:06pm

HI WALT,

 

      I JUST LEARNED OF THIS WEBSITE DUE TO MY DENTAL PROBLEMS THAT APPEAR TO BE RELATED TO TO THE RADIATION I HAD. I TOO AM TRYING TO FIND ACTUAL STUDIES THAT HAVE BEEN DONE,  SO FAR NO LUCK WITH ACTUAL STUDIES.  I PLAN TO CALL THE RADIOLOGY DEPT, AT UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA TO SEE IF I CAN GET A LEAD. ALTHOUGH AT THIS TIME, I DO ONOT BELIEVE ANY RADIOLOGIST WILL AGREE OR TESTIFY THAT DENTAL ISSUES ARE DEFINITELY A SIDE EFFECT OF RADIATION. IF I GET ANY INFORMATION I WILL CERTAINLY PASS IT ON.   DEBBIE

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BJ, Community Member
8/18/09 8:41am

Yes.  I was diagnosed in 2007, had lumpectomy then chemotherapy, then Herceptin for 12 months.  After completing all this treatment in February of this year I need three root canals.  Have had one and two to go.  

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Linda Benitez, Community Member
11/ 8/09 7:56pm

I have had trouble after Chemotherapy also with my teeth.  They are splintering and chipping on a constant basis.  I am going to see my primary care doctor to talk to him about the possibility of medical coverage to cover the damage done by cancer and cancer treatments on my teeth and gums and lack of saliva.  I am down to 1 molar to chew on and many missing teeth.  

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/ 8/09 8:11pm

Good luck with the insurance coverage, Linda - the last thing we need, battling cancer, is money/insurance issues on top of that... PJH

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Indygirl, Community Member
10/26/10 3:35pm

I had breast cancer in 2009 - total mastectomy with Chemotherapy. It is now late 2010 and I am having all kinds of problems with my teeth.   I now need at least 3 root canals.  I can't afford it so I'm probably going to have to have them pulled. I think I've lost enough body parts thank you very much. My Mother also had breast cancer and chemotherapy and she also had problems with her teeth afterwards.  I agree that medical insurance should cover this. A root canal with the crown you need after the root canal costs approximatley $2,000!

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DEBBIE, Community Member
11/ 2/10 3:24pm

I LOST ALL MY TOP TEETH ANS HALF MY BOTTOM TEETH .  ALMOST CERTAIN THAT IT HAPPENED FROM BREAST RADIATION FOLLOWING A LUMPECTOMY.  SURGERY WAS IN 2006 AND TOP TEETH FELLOUT IN 2008. BECAUSE OF A FLAT PALATE AND LACK OF SALIVA I CAN NOT WEAR A DENTURE.  THREE WEEKS AGO I HAD TO HAVE 4 TEETH PULLED. HAD A FLIPPER MAD TO FILL THE SPACE AND NOW I CAN'T CLOSE MY MOUTH.  THE WHOLE MOUTH NEEDS IMPLANTS.  I HAVE BECOME A SOCIAL ISOLATE.  ON THE BOTTOM. I ONLY GO OUT TO SEE DOCTORS AND DENTISTS. RIGHY NOW I HAVE AN INFECTION AND NEED A ROOT CANAL IN ONE OF MY REMAINING 8 TEETH. I AM OUT OF MONEY.  YES, THIS SHOULD DEFINITELY BE COVERED,

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/ 2/10 4:08pm

Debbie, please see my reply to your posted question. I'm really sorry you're having to go through this... cancer takes enough, without robbing you of your teeth and your confidence, too. I hope you're able to get some help with this. Perhaps our post on financial resources will give you somewhere to start. Good luck - PJH

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By Uid, Community Member— Last Modified: 10/02/13, First Published: 08/02/09