Does Chemotherapy Affect Your Ability to Get Dental Implants?

Dentist Articles

As many chemotherapy patients know, this treatment can have a lot of unpleasant side effects, one of which is tooth damage and loss. It is possible to have those teeth replaced with implants. However, chemotherapy patients must take special precautions before undergoing this cosmetic procedure. Here are three things you need to know.

There's a Waiting Period

The first thing a cosmetic dentist will tell you is you must wait a period of time after your last chemotherapy treatment before you can start the process of getting dental implants. There are several reasons for this.

First, chemotherapy affects all the cells in the body, including the ones in your bone marrow where red and white blood cells are produced. When bone marrow production is reduced, you make fewer red and white blood cells, which can leave you open to a number of problems, such as an increased risk of infection and anemia. This can have a negative impact on the successful placement of dental implants. For instance, the inability to fight off an infection makes the implant more susceptible to damage by bacteria in the mouth.

Second, people undergoing chemotherapy often develop a number of oral health problems, such as sores, dry mouth, and peeling or swelling tongue. Trying to put in dental implants before these issues resolve will lead to increased discomfort and prolong the amount of time it takes to heal.

Typically, the cosmetic dentist will want chemotherapy patients to wait a month or two after their last treatment, which should provide a sufficient amount of time for bone marrow to start producing red and white blood cells at a normal rate again and for the oral health problems to dissipate.

Certain Medications Will Disqualify You

Another problem that concerns cosmetic dentists is certain medications used in chemotherapy can increases the chances of severe side effects developing during the dental implant process. Specifically, patients who were given bisphosphonates intravenously had a higher risk of developing osteonecrosis. This is a condition where bone tissue starts dying because of reduced blood flow to the area.

Researchers believe people who take bisphosphonates are more likely to develop this condition because the drug inhibits bone remodeling, something that's critical for dental implants to successfully integrate into the jaw bone. The body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding bone tissue. Unfortunately, the medication has been known to bind to the new bone tissue, which may be the reason why bones in the jaw stop developing as normal.

The half-life of bisphosphonates is 12 years, which means the risk for the disease remains long after you stop taking the medication. However, some cosmetic dentists may still do the implants if enough time has passed since your treatment or you were only on the drug for less than three years and don't have any other health complications.

Radiation Therapy Compounds the Issue

Sometimes people undergoing chemotherapy will also be treated with radiation therapy. Unfortunately, this can further increase your risk of experiencing unpleasant side effects when placing dental implants. Teeth and bones in the jaw have small blood vessels that ferry red and white blood cells to them. Radiation therapy in the head area can destroy these blood vessels, reducing blood flow. Without adequate blood flow, the jaw bone will have a difficult time rebuilding itself to integrate the implant and treating any infection that develops.

The damage caused by radiation is generally permanent. Therefore, it can disqualify you from getting the implants if the damage is severe enough. However, there may be other ways to replace missing or damage teeth, such as full or partial bridges.

For more information about these issue, talk to a local cosmetic dentistry clinic.


16 March 2017

All About Full and Partial Dentures

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