I have two months of chemotherapy to complete after successful colon surgery. I’ve found a chemo side-effects fact sheet online, but it doesn’t say if my teeth will be affected. Will I need porcelain veneers or some other kind of cosmetic dentistry? Maybe I shouldn’t worry, but I’m concerned about the added expense of needing dental work. I’ve already incurred so many out-of-pocket expenses, and I want to know what to expect. Thanks, Gene.
Chemotherapy can affect your teeth. But whether or not you will need porcelain veneers after treatment depends on several factors, including:
- Length of your chemo treatment
- The condition of your teeth before and after treatment
- Whether or not other cosmetic dentistry options will be effective
Chemotherapy Can Affect Your Teeth
There are side effects of chemotherapy, such as vomiting and dry mouth that can affect your teeth. Dental problems increase with the length of the chemotherapy treatment.
- The acid in your mouth – The acid from vomiting can erode tooth enamel and cause tooth decay. If chemotherapy causes you to vomit, you can neutralize the acid. Add ¼ teaspoon of baking soda to 8 ounces of warm water and rinse your mouth with the mixture. After 30 minutes, brush your teeth with an extra soft toothbrush.
- Dry mouth – If the chemotherapy causes your mouth to be dry, the dryness can promote plaque and tooth decay. Keep your mouth moist throughout the day by chewing sugarless gum, sucking on sugar-free candy or ice chips, or by sipping water. Ask your dentist for prescription fluoride toothpaste to help prevent decay, and floss your teeth twice daily.
- Other oral side effects – There are other oral side effects of chemotherapy. Speak with your dentist and your oncologist about the side effects and what can be done to preserve your teeth and oral health.
Will You Need Porcelain Veneers?
We recommend that you speak with your dentist before you start chemotherapy. Let he or she know when you’ll start treatment. Your dentist will be able to anticipate your oral health needs and monitor the effects of treatment on your teeth.
If you need cosmetic work after you’ve finished chemotherapy, there might be alternatives to porcelain veneers. At times, chairside dental bonding can conceal signs of wear and discoloration on teeth. Dental bonding is less expensive than porcelain veneers. An experienced cosmetic dentist can produce beautiful results with bonding and make it blend seamlessly with your natural teeth. He or she will examine your teeth and let you know your options.
This post is sponsored by Lowell, MA accredited cosmetic dentist, Dr. Michael Szarek.