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Chemotherapy, Radiation and teeth issues


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I have 3A NSCLC adenocarcinoma. I had surgery in February, top lobe removed and 13 lymph nodes- 4 were cancerous. I was told I was "cancer free". I had my last chemotherapy with Alimta and Carboplatin on July 23. I had 4 infusions. I am about to start 6 weeks of radiation.  I went in for my regular teeth cleaning. My dentist found rampant bacteria and cavaties. He has been treating me for 20 years with regular checkups. He was dismayed by this aggressive bacteria. Today, I had two hours of work done....root canal on one tooth, crown off and bacteria cleaned on another tooth, cavity filled on another tooth.  In two days, he may be working on three more teeth. My dentist wants me to talk to my Radiologist about having dental work while having radiation treatment.

Has anyone else had teeth problems following chemotherapy?  Has anyone had dental work during radiation treatment?

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I just had full mouth implants done a couple of months ago, and my dentist wanted to be sure I wasn't undergoing active treatment (chemo or radiation) because it might interfere with the implants' healing.  I did some research on it, but only from the standpoint of the effect on Implants (my own teeth are history at this point).  I know that treatment often interferes with the immune system, so it doesn't seem that surprising that it would affect the bacteria in the mouth, as it does elsewhere.  

Seems to me that dental care during cancer treatment should be something a dentist should know about, more than the oncologists.  I'm not sure why your dentist is putting you in the middle here, rather than consulting with your oncologist himself.  

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My medical oncologist cautioned me to see my dentist every two to three weeks during infusions.  I did but the taxol and carboplatin (18 infusions total) did not effect my teeth, thankfully.  I had two treatments of radiation: conventional radiation, M-F for six weeks, and precision radiation.  My radiation oncologist did not advise me to consult my dentist before, during or after treatment.  I believe there was a lead fixture mounted to the x-ray machine that guarded my head and neck from radiation during conventional radiation.  I distinctly recall them mounting and dismounting the fixture before and after treatment.  Indeed, it had an engraved name plate on it.  That is likely why my radiation oncologist did not caution me about dental impacts.

I am sorry to learn about your dental work.  The only thing I despise more than lung cancer is dental work!

Stay the course.


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I wish my oncologist had mentioned seeing my dentist during chemotherapy. It would have been nice to stop this bacteria brush fire earlier.



I hope to talk with my Radiologist today about dental treatments during radiation treatments. It is clear to me thst dental work needs to be done.  I had a root canal and other work done yesterday. More to come probably Thursday. I'm so disappointed that I was not warned of this possibility.

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I'm with Tom on his feelings about dental work.  The one consolation I have in losing the rest of my teeth is at least I will never have to endure another root canal!  Careful hygiene is critical with implants, but at least no decay/root canals.

Hopefully they can work around your treatment and/or suggest a dental rinse or something that will help.

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I had two hours of dental treatment yesterday. In one week...root canal, bacteria removed from 4 other teeth under crowns. Chemotherapy can cause teeth issues. My dentist called it  "bacterial brushfires". I read that it is a good idea to be monitored by your dentist every 3 weeks during chemo and radiation.  I wasn't told that. I am now using a Waterpik and Biotene dry mouth rinse. Moving forward.

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Hi, Laurel,

That sounds like quite an ordeal! I hope you're feeling better! Thank you for sharing your experience and advice.

With gratitude,

Digital Community Manager
LUNGevity Foundation

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