A few years ago, I realized that I was thinking about dental care all wrong. Instead of listening carefully to my dentist and making the necessary changes, I assumed that he was ultimately responsible for making sure that my teeth stayed healthy. Unfortunately, I developed a few serious cavities because I failed to properly brush and floss my teeth, and I knew that it was my fault. I decided to start taking notes at my dental checkups and carefully abiding by the dentist's orders. The difference was almost miraculous. This blog is all about working with your dentist to improve your result.
Cancer and the treatments for it have wide-ranging effects on the body, and treatments administered to practically any part of the body change the environment in the mouth. If you received chemotherapy and radiation in order to shrink and destroy tumors, you'll need to make careful choices when deciding how to fill in the gap left by missing teeth. A dental bridge will likely work better than a jaw-anchored implant for the following five reasons.
Reduced Bone Tissues
Some chemotherapy drugs, most notably the class known as bisphosphonates, can kill bone tissue in the jaw. Dental implants are stabilized and held in place because the titanium post bonds with the bone tissue, so obviously this can't happen when the tissue is dead or damaged. Bridges attach to the healthy teeth instead, which makes them a perfect choice when the jaw itself is compromised during cancer treatment. Even if multiple teeth are missing, your dentist can create a large multi-tooth bridge that reaches between the closest two healthy teeth.
Aside from losing the jaw bone tissue that you need to anchor dental implants, many radiation treatments and chemotherapy drugs slow down the body's natural healing ability. This leads to rejections because the bone is not properly sealing around the post and bonding with it. Since there's no need to rely on bone growth to get a successful bridge, your dentist may recommend it instead of an implant if there are concerns about your overall health. There's also no need for extensive biopsies to determine the health of your jaw tissue, which are painful and can cause their own complications.
When you receive practically any modern cancer treatment, your immune system is depressed for months or even years of remission. The open wound created by implant placement is more likely to become infected when your immune system is compromised. In contrast, getting a bridge placed only creates open wounds if you still need to have teeth extracted before getting the bridge put in place. Avoiding open wounds shortly after cancer treatment prevents serious problems like
Due to all these issues, most dentists recommend waiting weeks or months after chemotherapy ends to try a procedure like a dental implant installation. Some cautious individuals even delay the process for years. If you're having trouble chewing or speaking right now because of missing teeth, waiting that long may not be a reasonable option. Dental bridges can be placed during active cancer treatment or immediately after the end of chemotherapy and radiation. Getting a bridge right now won't necessarily stop you from getting implants later either.
Potential Cancer Risks
Finally, there is some worrying evidence that there may be a correlation between dental implants and new occurrences of oral cancer. While there's no proof yet that there's a link between getting an implant and developing cancerous gum tissue, there are documented cases of patients with few to no other risk factors getting cancer after receiving an implant. If you're trying to avoid every possible cancer risk so you stay in remission, a modern dental bridge is probably a better choice.
Of course, only your dentist can determine which type of prosthesis best fits your needs. Talk to your dentist about the differences between bridges and implants before making a decision about how to fill the gap in your smile. For more information about your possible choices, consider contacting a professional like those at Rose City Dental Care.