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Dental and Oral Health Center

Nasopharyngeal cancer

07/17/2008

Question:

Have been diagnosed with stage 4 nasopharyngeal cancer. Completed chemo/radiation in July 2007. It has left me with extreme dry mouth. In my country we don`t have access to artificial saliva. Most of my teeth are showing terrible signs of decay and have to do root canal to one. I am contemplating extraction to a couple of them. Is it safe to do so at this point in time. Many thanks

Answer:

No. The main concern is the radiation’s effect on the bone surrounding the teeth. You need to have this evaluated by an oral surgeon familiar with the effects of radiation. They will check the radiation fields (where you received the radiation) and the amount delivered to the area. If you received over 50 Cy then you risk a serious infection in the extraction site called osteoradionecrosis. The site may not heal.

It would be wise to have this evaluated in the dental clinic of a cancer center such as the Cleveland Clinic or the James (OSU GPR Service). They will know how to proceed.

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Response by:

Meade C van Putten, DDS, MS Meade C van Putten, DDS, MS
Associate Professor of Primary Care Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University