Neck cancer and the after effects of radiation including tooth loss

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Neck cancer and the after effects of radiation including tooth loss

by MrCrary on Thu Jan 24, 2019 05:16 PM

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Hi All,

I'm hoping to get some direction for my mother who had neck/throat cancer 3 years ago. She underwent radition and chemo. 2 years later cancer was again found in her neck and it was surgically removed, no chemo or radiation. Now her teeth are all breaking off at the gumline or falling out due to the radiation. We initally thought...ok, lets get the rest pulled, then get her some dentures. Now we're being told by an oral surgeon that she needs the dentures what adhere with the pegs/implants, so what we thought was going to cost $2500-$3500, has now sky rocketed.

My mother is on a fixed income (social security $1538/per month) her medical insurance payments per month equal $400/per month (Medicare, supplemental and prescription) rent is $350 plus $75 for utilities.

So a couple questions...I understand Medicare will pay for extractions if medically necessary prior to radiation, does anyone have information on if its covered after radiation, seems logical since the tooth loss was a result of the radiatoin. Everything I find online says it will not be covered.

We are looking at Medicaid, and state assistance to get the extractions covered including removing the roots where the teeth were lost but we're not having any luck.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.

-S

RE: Neck cancer and the after effects of radiation including tooth loss

by Kacpdc on Thu Jan 24, 2019 06:21 PM

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I had radiation on my neck and jaw and my teeth were doing the same. I recently had them all extracted and just got full dentures. Why can’t she have dentures?

RE: Neck cancer and the after effects of radiation including tooth loss

by MrCrary on Thu Jan 24, 2019 06:25 PM

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On Jan 24, 2019 6:21 PM Kacpdc wrote:

I had radiation on my neck and jaw and my teeth were doing the same. I recently had them all extracted and just got full dentures. Why can’t she have dentures?

Thank you for your reply!!

We originally planned on going that route, however, the oral surgeon suggested the dentures with the pegs/implants especially for the top because of her issue with gag reflex. It's my understanding also, that it's going to cost around $2,500 for the extractions/root removal of where the teeth have been lost....urgh!

RE: Neck cancer and the after effects of radiation including tooth loss

by Sdurnell on Fri Jan 25, 2019 09:04 AM

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I was advised that I couldn't have any invasive dental procedures (extractions or implants) after radiation, so opted to have all my teeth pulled.  My doctors said the risk of having an infection that doesn't heal is high and that it might cause osteoradionecrosis (bone death) in the jaw. 

Our jaws are not as well equipped with blood vessels and radiation destroys even more, so low blood supply can keep an infection from healing.

One way to minimize the chance of that is to have a number of "dives" in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber both before and after the dental work.  I think it is usually 20 before and 10 after.  

I got dentures, and overcame my gag reflex.  They work pretty well now.

Nine years ago it cost us $6000+ to have all my teeth pulled.  I had dental insurance that paid a bit of it, but most was out of pocket as my insurance (I was not yet on Medicare) denied it.  I had all my doctors--ENT/surgeon, radiation oncologist, and two oral surgeons--to write letters saying that the extractions were medically necessary, and in the end they reimbursed the entire amount.  So I was able to apply the $1500 from dental insurance to the cost of the dentures.

I hope things work out for your mom.  Many people don't get good advice about dental work before treatment for H&N cancer, and have a lot of problems afterward.

Susan

RE: Neck cancer and the after effects of radiation including tooth loss

by Kacpdc on Fri Jan 25, 2019 12:52 PM

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I agree with you. They also told me to do the oxygen thing but my oncologist said I should be okay. I gotniver the gag reflex and its been okay. It’s just been a few weeks since I got my final teeth pulled and the dentures but I’m healing pretty good. They don’t tell you what you need to know before radiation that’s for sure. Hope things work out. Best of luck Kris

RE: Neck cancer and the after effects of radiation including tooth loss

by kak123 on Tue Apr 23, 2019 03:45 PM

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tooth loss is a side effect of radiation. My husband had implants put in long ago and they are now falling out. They are very expensive so I would go with dentures.

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