March 9th, 2015

What Chemo Did to Teeth

I went back to the dentist for a root canal this time.
Shooting the anesthesia, the treatment began, but shortly after the dentist asked me,

“How long will you have chemo?”

I answered, “ No end. My cancer is metastatic, so I have to continue for the rest of my life.”

Then he and his wife as his assistant, who were looking at inside of my mouth together, conversed in Chinese. (Yes. The dentist is Chinese-American.)

As he continued his work a little more, his wife turned off the light upon me, and the treatment, which was supposed to be for two hours, was done in less than an hour.

“Instead of a root canal, he put in a filling. He will explain the reason,” said the wife.

Sitting at front of my x-ray images, he started:

“ The reason why I asked about chemo was, if you continue on chemo, your immune system becomes weak, and it will have effects on the root canal,”

“Because you said it didn’t hurt, I put in a filling. If it starts hurting, you have to have the root canal, but let’s see.”

According to the dentist, the bone cell has a cycle; birth to death in 3-6 months. Once an old cell dies, it is cleaned up and a new cell is born. Yet in my case he is concerned that this cycle is affected by the low immune system and the regeneration of the bone process is slow.

“So, you mean it’s a side effect?” I asked.

“ Maybe,” he said.

“Then, the same problem may happen again?”

“ Yes.”

Really? Oh my God!

My blood cell count has been in the normal range except during the first regimen when I had to be admitted to the hospital to boost up the number. However, as I have been constantly on chemo for the last five years, the oncologist also told me that my immune system was probably weak now.

After listening to the dentist, I thought;

1) I am longing for a cancer vaccine, but the longer I wait being on chemo, perhaps the less it will be effective because the vaccine relies on the immune system.

2) The amount of the radiation I have received from CT scans, which I have taken every 2-3 months for the last five years must be enormous and may have affected my body, too.

3) Cancer survivors live longer compared with 10 years ago, but the reality is that the longer the battle becomes, the more it becomes complicated and difficult.

3) I should strengthen my immune system.

So, I ordered AHCC, a supplement.