Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Oral Optimism

Reader Anonymous commented on "Tracker Keeper Evolution" inquiring about my teeth.

The answer is I have no idea how they are holding up. I know this treatment can be very rough on them, such that blogs by other patients with poor dental health report their dentist recommended that most teeth be pulled before treatment even begins because they won't survive it. Others who had pretty healthy teeth before treatment still report as many as 8-10 new cavities in the year following treatment.

Of course it depends on the exact radiation field, chemotherapy regimen, dose and duration in addition to the patient's starting dental health.

I was fitted for fluoride trays that I was supposed to fill with fluoride gel every night and soak my teeth for a minute and then not rinse for 30 minutes. I did that for maybe a week and a half. Then it became too painful because the tray edges cut into my gums. For a week or so after that I painted the fluoride on with a Q-tip, but that became too painful as well as the gum tissue got even more sensitive. After that point, so for roughly the past four weeks, I have only brushed with no toothpaste. At least once every day at bedtime and I try to brush in the morning as well.

Everything we read says that the mouth rinse of water with salt and baking soda is beneficial for the teeth and helps protect them during treatment. I've certainly been doing a lot of that. I go through about a gallon of rinse per day.

Even before cancer I sometimes ground my teeth at night and already had mouthguards for that purpose. During some of the more stressful periods of treatment I noticed myself waking up with tightly clenched teeth. I've been wearing my mouthguard as much as I can to address that and prevent whatever damage I can.

So I'm mostly banking on hope and optimism and the fact that my dental health has always been excellent. I'll probably take some hits but hopefully not too bad. I don't think I'll have any regrets. I did the best I could given all of the other issues I had to deal with.

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