Breast cancer/Radiation/Tooth Problems

Posted by sandyjr @sandyjr, Aug 27 1:08pm

I have had BC twice and radiation twice. I am just coming onto 5 years from the second cancer and my teeth are starting to give me real bad problems. A tooth broke and I had to have it pulled because part of it was below the gum line. I opted for an implant and when I just went for the X-ray for that yesterday, the surgeon told me that I have bone loss in the roots of two teeth and that I need to see a periodontist. No one throughout both bouts of BC with radiation including oncologists (4) have told me that I could have dental issues because of the radiation. I am interested in hearing from people that have been lucky enough to have their doctor/doctors give them a heads up and I would also like to hear of other peoples’ experiences dealing with dental issues possibly due to radiation, especially if the issues have been real concerning like mine.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Breast Cancer group.

Do you have osteoporosis or did you take an aromatase inhibitor (ex., anastrozole) for the cancer(s)? I don't know what radiation might cause but aromatase inhibitors block the production of estrogen, and bones need estrogen to stay healthy. Or osteoporosis drugs (some of which, ironically enough can cause bone loss of the jaw, though that's not common).

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I have known of radiation to the head or neck causing dental problems my little brother had this. I don’t believe I have ever known of someone having a dental issue from breast radiation. Older forms of radiation caused all kinds of troubles we don’t really hear about with newer types of radiation.
I am sorry this is happening to you. May I ask where you learned it could be from radiation, I am intensely curious about this. I seem to have a ton of dental issues including some badly broken teeth, but no one has pinned down a reason.

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sandyjr
I have a rare immune disease. Before I was diagnosed I had had a lifetime of severe periodontal disease and had lost many teeth. Once I started daily immunoglobulin infusion the dental disease went away. Could the radiation have lowered your immune system? Have you ever thought about seeing an immunologist?
Just an idea…
Katrina123

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I was stage 3 did 6 months chemotherapy and 36 rounds of radiation. No one gave me a heads up on my teeth would be effective by all this . I've always had such great teeth but now I'm dealing with so many gum infections
And tooth breakage.

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i dont have breast cancer but my sister does and I have been reading about this. so sorry…….. she is going to start I think xgeva shots once month and im going to tell her they will cause her a dental nightmare…. im going to tell her to load up on VIACTIV, chews that contain VIT D3, k2 and calcium….. or take even more vitamin D. i dont know but i am going to warn her about this………….

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I was diagnosed with osteopenia close to the time of my BC diagnosis. I was stage 3 and did 5 months of chemo and 33 rounds of radiation. I'm on an AI (Letrozole) and get a Prolia shot every 6 months. No one ever mentioned dental issues related to anything but the Prolia. Before treatment, my periodontist discovered a broken root on one of my molars and did a root amputation (cut and filed off the broken root). He then warned that the procedure had a high failure rate. The tooth is still good after almost 3 years (November). So, I guess I don't see how radiation which for me never went higher than the neck could cause dental problems.

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I’ve had constant dental issues since my breast cancer 4 yrs ago. Last year dental surgery on gums which cost $1,765! This year by the time I’m finished with all the dental work it will cost me well over $9,000! I dropped my dental insurance because it’s really not worth it. I had to go on Anastrozole estrogen blocker since diagnosed & have one more year left. It’s attacking my bones & teeth! I refuse to do the shot for osteoporosis which is known to cause a serious disease of the gums.

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@perplexed

I’ve had constant dental issues since my breast cancer 4 yrs ago. Last year dental surgery on gums which cost $1,765! This year by the time I’m finished with all the dental work it will cost me well over $9,000! I dropped my dental insurance because it’s really not worth it. I had to go on Anastrozole estrogen blocker since diagnosed & have one more year left. It’s attacking my bones & teeth! I refuse to do the shot for osteoporosis which is known to cause a serious disease of the gums.

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I just want to clarify some things. The osteoporosis drugs that are associated with causing osteonecrosis (aka "dead bone") and lesser damage to the jaw bone are the bisphosphonates (Fosamax, etc.) and include Prolia which has some bisphosphonate activities. There are a few other osteoporosis drugs given by injection or infusuon or infusion that are not bisphosphonates and not showing any correlation with jaw bone destruction. (So far?)

So not all "shots" for osteoporosis are an issue with this side effect.

Also, we lose jaw bone over time from just plain aging. The same as osteoporosis and diminished estrogen levels with menopause or procedures that affect estrogen levels.

My prosthodontist has also seen a lot of first-time teeth and gum issues since covid hit. He's not sure if it's related to the covid-caused lockdown, when a lot of people skipped routine appointments, or if the vaccinations play a part in this. So, while the bisphosponates are a concern, they are not the only factors at play. Add the stress of covid and its affect on everyone's life and newly-diagnosed teeth grinding (brusixm) and teeth have had a harder time lately.

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I am curious as to how many folks in this conversation took chemo and wondering if that could have affected our teeth and jaws? It certainly has left plenty of long term issues in my life, mostly either the doctors did not know about or didn’t warn me about. I have read a few studies where they discovered a long term effect. Could this be an unforeseen long term challenge of chemo? Anyone?

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@auntieoakley

I am curious as to how many folks in this conversation took chemo and wondering if that could have affected our teeth and jaws? It certainly has left plenty of long term issues in my life, mostly either the doctors did not know about or didn’t warn me about. I have read a few studies where they discovered a long term effect. Could this be an unforeseen long term challenge of chemo? Anyone?

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Chemo is notorious for being a bone robber… I wasn’t even classified as osteopenic before my battle with leukemia and the bone marrow transplant. Just one year later, after all the chemo I was shocked to be diagnosed with osteoporosis. My doctors told me it was a direct result of the chemo and a side effect from the transplant.
But, it’s one of those risks we have to take to buy extra time for ourselves. Without treatment I wouldn’t be here. A trade worth taking.
I found this informational blog regarding bone loss and cancer treatments.
https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/blog/cancer-and-osteoporosis/

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@loribmt

Chemo is notorious for being a bone robber… I wasn’t even classified as osteopenic before my battle with leukemia and the bone marrow transplant. Just one year later, after all the chemo I was shocked to be diagnosed with osteoporosis. My doctors told me it was a direct result of the chemo and a side effect from the transplant.
But, it’s one of those risks we have to take to buy extra time for ourselves. Without treatment I wouldn’t be here. A trade worth taking.
I found this informational blog regarding bone loss and cancer treatments.
https://www.bonehealthandosteoporosis.org/blog/cancer-and-osteoporosis/

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“But, it’s one of those risks we have to take to buy extra time for ourselves. Without treatment I wouldn’t be here. A trade worth taking.”

I agree 100%! Reading that was like reading my medical files. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about dental issues. Toothless and alive might be my new moniker. 😂😂

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