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An established patient calls to inform us of a recent cancer diagnosis. She stated her oncologist recommended a dental evaluation prior to starting chemotherapy. What should we do?
There are many aspects to this question.
- Adjust your schedule, if needed, to accommodate the patient so she can be seen as soon as possible.
- Make sure she is up-to-date with radiographs, especially a FMX to rule out any undiagnosed decay or abscess. Perform a thorough periodontal charting and oral cancer screening.
- Restore any active decay and open margins.
- Remove potential sources of trauma, such as overhanging margins or food traps.
- Perform RCT or EXT as needed. Provide instruction on necessary changes to her normal oral hygiene routine.
- Provide resources and samples of products to combat possible side effects and prevent decay.
- Obtain the name and contact information of her oncologist. Inform the oncologist of what treatment was performed and what was observed.
- Establish a treatment plan for continued care.
What if the patient’s dental needs are beyond what can be completed prior to the scheduled start of cancer treatments?
We want to accommodate the patient in every way to ensure there is no delay in starting cancer treatments. If this is not possible, contact the oncologist to discuss the patient's oral condition. Our main goal is to obtain an acceptable level of oral health, free of decay and infection. Now is not the time to be including optional "high end" restorative treatment plans.
What if a new patient indicates that he had cancer a few years ago and has not been seen by a dentist since?
We need to know what kind of cancer and what type of treatments he experienced. These answers may affect our treatment plans.