Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Successful visit to the dentist - first since radiation

I went to the dentist yesterday for a cleaning and post-radiation assessment. Thanks to my great dentist and her crack team of hygienists and office staff, I managed to come through radiation and the side effects with only 3 small surface cavities. I was actually very disappointed that they found *any* cavities, but evidently all the proactive care I have been doing has paid off, keeping my teeth relatively strong and in my mouth for the moment. Since my face still hurts on the outside, and knowing that dental professionals like to brace on chin and cheek while they are maneuvering their cleaning tools (think mountain climbers!), we took time at the first of the appointment to identify sensitive areas so all could be avoided during treatment. The hygienist gave me ample opportunity to wet my mouth (yes, the water bottle accompanied me to the appointment!) Also, since I have some muscle weakness on my left side of the face, at times someone (me or the hygienist) was keeping my lips out of the way of treatment (made me wish I could sneer like Elvis!). X-rays, cleaning, polishing went just fine. The only thing they didn't do that I think they usually do was floss my teeth at the end of the cleaning. My dentist had provided me with a prescription for antibiotics before the appointment, since the goal is to avoid infection in my highly-radiated jawbone. The American Dental Association is pretty clear on when preventive antibiotics should be used: http://www.ada.org/public/topics/health_oral_faq.asp.
I wish everyone could have the dental team that I have, and I am grateful to them for keeping me on as a patient, even though I am probably a 'special' case for the moment. My advice for you, if you are facing radiation to any part of your head or neck, is to go first to your dentist and get a thorough check up and some preventive care to carry you through the radiation treatment and beyond. Good teeth and quality of life go hand in hand.

2 comments:

Nancy Ogg said...

Boy, you're posting early in the morning! Glad the dentist visit went so well. Sounds like you really do have a great team. I love my teeth and hate the dentist so this would've been a really scary trip for me. I, too, have a great dentist but I've hated the dentist since I was 6 years old so don't imagine that is going to get better any time soon. Glad yours is taking such great care of you and your teeth. So many hurdles to get over but you're doing a great job so just keep hanging in there!

Love,
Nancy

Anonymous said...

Your kind words mean so much to all of us at the office. Thank you for allowing us to learn along with you. It's been such a privilege to be a part of your healcare team.

Your blog is inspirational and educational to so many people. You probably don't even realize how many people you've reached.

Thank you,
Linda Gentry

 
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