Chemo and teeth issues

Last updated: June 2022

Teeth are such an important part of your body. Take it from one who knows. I’ve had bad teeth for as long as I can remember. The dentist said I have soft enamel. (I thought that was hard!?!) Having cancer has made the problem even worse. Because my teeth have always been bad, I made sure to get proper dentistry for my daughters.

Well-maintained teeth are important

Crystal’s teeth were the most expensive because she needed braces. Her teeth were crooked as a child, but they looked beautiful after months of braces. She loved how her teeth looked once the braces were gone. Crystal was a model for a short time and then worked on TV for a while and in both jobs, she got to show off her pearly whites. But then she got cancer.

Crystal had Hodgkin lymphoma. Her doctor said it was curable, but she would have to go through chemo. Twelve rounds of really harsh chemo took a toll on her body. It took months to feel a little like her old self. Of course, she lost her hair, but it was growing back. She fell a few times because of the neuropathy she experienced and had an awful taste in her mouth for months that made her lose her appetite. Crystal also experienced chemo brain and even had bad dreams of the cancer coming back.

Chemotherapy caused tooth sensitivity

All of that was going away a bit at a time, but then she started having problems with her teeth. Crystal started to experience a sensitivity to anything hot or cold. It made it really hard for her to enjoy any of the food she was eating. Coffee, ice cream, cold drinks, spicy foods were all painful for her to eat and drink.

The problem was, even good healthy foods bothered her teeth. She had to be sure everything was room temperature and not spicy. She went to a dentist that couldn’t help, and then went to a specialist.

A long-lasting side effect of chemo

She was told it was one of the effects from chemo and that she may have it forever. Of course toothpaste and a rinse were recommended, and they helped, but what she really needed was time.

Luckily, Crystal’s pain has subsided and it’s not so bad anymore. It didn’t happen overnight, but it is a lot better.

The thing is, this is not something that is shared along with all the other side effects of chemo. She wasn’t told to make sure to go to a dentist before, during, and after treatments. She found this out online as she spoke to other people who had gone through the same type of cancer as she did. And she did go to the dentist. In spite of that, her teeth still became sensitive.

Needed: a cancer treatment guidebook

I wish doctors had a little book they could put out to let people know what they should do to prepare for chemotherapy treatments. And it would also be helpful to know what to do during the treatments and what to expect after.

At first, there is overwhelm during the initial appointments. If there was a book, it could be referred back to at home or with the help of family. Then, some of the important stuff is left out and not discussed.

Of course the doctors ask if we have questions, but you can’t ask questions about what you don’t know. Again a book or maybe a patient advocate would be helpful. I’m glad Crystal is better and living a wonderful life. I just wish she didn’t have to go through everything that she did, especially when some of it could have been avoided or eliminated.

Wishing you health and happiness.Connect with others in the Forum: What side effect is the worst for you?

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