Yesterday I had my first dentist appointment in over two years. They took x-rays and gave my teeth a cleaning. The x-rays showed five cavities, which my dentist will drill and fill on May 1, provided my hematologist/oncologist approves of an invasive procedure being done on me. I'm fairly sure that he'll approve because the consequences of leaving cavities uncorrected could be far more dangerous than doing some drilling. Besides, my white blood cell count has been doing well lately, so there should be a minimum of risk.
The cavities have probably been there for at least a year, although they were probably smaller then. As some of you know, I spent about 10 months of 2006 at Hershey Medical Center recovering from a bone marrow transplant. During most of that time I was either too tired or too sick to get out of bed to brush my teeth. I should have tried to brush my teeth anyway, but often I just didn't have the strength to stand at the sink that long. Taking good care of your teeth after a cavity has set in doesn't help much, so all the brushing and flossing I've done since coming home may have prevented new cavities, but the old decay wasn't reversed by my good dental hygiene.
I expected my dentist to find at least one cavity, because I've been having rather bad pain in one tooth whenever something cold touches it. This pain has been occurring for about four months now. I called my dentist right away when the pain started, but she didn't have any appointments available until yesterday. I suppose I should have seen my dentist when I started feeling stronger about nine months ago, but drilling cavities back then would have been a much more serious procedure than it will be now. The chronic neutropenia (dangerously low immunities) I had until this past December would have made drilling cavities a major infection risk without first having a series of Neupogen or Neulasta injections to artificially raise my immunities. You probably wouldn't believe how much just one of these shots costs; when I was told for the first time I couldn't believe it. Because of the expense, doctors usually only order them when the risks to your health are severe. But based on my current lab test results, I think my dentist can now drill safely.
My dentist told me that I won't need to have any root canals or to have any teeth pulled, which I'm sure will be a relief to my hematologist/oncologist. I'm pretty happy about it myself. I'm also glad this dental work could wait until my health allowed the work to be done. I plan to be extra diligent in caring for my teeth from now on, even if I don't feel up to it in the future, because I know I will not enjoy having these five cavities drilled.