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Dental and Oral Health (Seniors)

Is root canal or extraction safe

08/06/2008

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 and extraction to a couple of them. Is it safe to do so at this point in time? Many thanks.

Answer:

I would recommend speaking with your dental provider and physician about any oral health problems you are having post-radiation/chemotherapy. In general, dental extractions in people who have had radiation therapy for cancer in the head and neck region run the risk of delayed healing, prolonged bone exposure, infection, and osteoradionecrosis (a death of the bone in the area). Usually root canal treatment carries less risk.

Please seek care as soon as possible and explain your history of care to your dentist so that they can treat you appropriately and develop solutions to help prevent you from getting more decay.

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Response by:

Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS Melissa McCartney Drum, DDS, MS
Assistant Professor of Endodontics
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University