Q) What if I was just diagnosed with cancer?
A) There are probably a million things going through your mind at the time of diagnosis. We understand this can be a difficult and emotional time. We urge you to consider whether or not you've had a recent dental checkup and, even if you have, to have another checkup to make sure your oral health is in good condition to undergo cancer treatment.
Q) What if I had a dental checkup in the last six months? Do I need to see a dentist again before starting cancer treatment?
A) While every diagnosis is unique, we at Allana Smiles believe that you should return to your dentist and have a new exam or obtain a dental clearance. A normal dental checkup can be different from a dental screening for cancer treatment. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, please see your dentist.
Q) What is a dental clearance?
A) A dental clearance is a fast and simple method that allows your dentist and oncologist to communicate efficiently. The dental clearance process usually starts with a thorough dental exam that requires X-rays, evaluation of your teeth and existing dental work, and your gum health. This evaluation allows the oncologist to know if your mouth is clear of infections.
Q) Why do I need a dental clearance?
A) For certain cancers such as head and neck cancers, a patient must have optimal oral health to undergo treatment. Cancer treatment can lower the immune system, leaving you open to developing infections or complications with your oral health, ultimately affecting your systemic health and impacting the success of your overall cancer treatment. At Allana Smiles, we believe that anyone undergoing treatment for any kind of cancer should receive a dental clearance for these reasons.
Q) Do I need a dental clearance no matter what type of cancer I have?
A) Currently, you are only required to receive a dental clearance for certain types of cancers. At Allana Smiles, we believe that oral health is intimately connected with the whole body, and evaluation and maintenance of your oral health is extremely important for all types of cancer treatment. For example, treatment for throat or jaw cancer would require a dental clearance before proceeding with treatment but wouldn't be required for a smaller, benign cancer. We believe that evaluating and maintaining your oral health during all types of cancer treatment is important.
Q) What types of cancer treatment should I obtain dental clearance?
A) Your oncologist will notify you if you need to have a dental clearance. If it is not mentioned, you as a patient should ask if a dental clearance is important to obtain prior to cancer treatment. If your cancer treatment requires or includes radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, you need to obtain a dental clearance prior to treatment. For all other types of cancer treatmetn, consult your oncologis or dentist.