Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bad News -- I Have Five Cavities

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 costswhen 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.


  1. Hi John,
    When I've cared for patients who can't get to the sink, I bring them a cup of water, toothbrush, paste, and a bin to spit in. Next time you are in the hospital, they should provide you with these things for oral care.
    Your Doc may want to put you on antibiotics prior to your dental visit. Ask him and make sure. Good luck to you.

  2. I'm sure it'll be approved for you, they can't just leave it like that.... but May 1st seems so far away!!  Glad that you don't have to have a root canal!!


  3. Boy, that's a bummer.  One cavity is enough but five is now fun.  I highly recommend flossing everyday, brushing after all meals and what I call "power rinsing" after eating any snack between brushings.  To power rinse I just put water in my mouth and swish it around & around as hard as I can and then spitting it out.  Sometimes I do it several times if I've eaten something that seems to stick to my teeth.  It's unfortunate that the hospital staff didn't see to your oral health as well.........Linda in Washington state  

  4. I am so glad you sent me an e-mail telling me about your post!  I haven't had any alerts that you have posted so I am very thankful you let me know you posted today.

    Sorry you have the cavities, but I am happy that you can take care of them.  I keep seeing that comercial from when we were kids when the kid came out of the dentist and yelled "No Cavities Mom!".  I always wanted to be that kid, but never was!  I always had cavities!  I hate getting drilled!  Sorry you have to go through it.

    Hugs Rosemary

  5. John, I did get the alert for this entry of yours; sorry you are having tooth problems, but glad that you don't need a root canal; had one before, it wasn't too bad, worse part is keeping your mouth open that long

    that must have been a busy dentist to have to wait so long for an appt!!

    take care of yourself


  6. glad its only 5:) enjoy your sunday


  7. (((((((((((((((((JOHN)))))))))))))))))))Thank you for sending me s letting me know skbwts up.I am sorry you got 5 cativites,I hope and pray they will fix it.

  8. I did get the alert about your journal entry.  It must be working on and off...
    good luck with your dental work. 'On Ya' - ma

  9. Thanks John: I didn't get an alert (and having the same problem. Soory about the cavities. No fun. But gave you don't need a root canal or anything pulled. I'm sure you are too. :)

  10. The main thing is that your teeth work!  Yay!! and no root canals or pullings.  When I get sick I have the same problem.  My meds tend to dry out my mouth, so I have to be extra diligent with brushing and flossing as well.  I have the BEST dentist.  I used to be anxious before dental appointments.  Not anymore!  Sorry you have so much work you have to get done.  I will pray you have little pain.  Love you, John!!  Love, Val xox
    P.S.  Do you and Krissy want to come over and do sentences for SPRING... the six new letters for the Weekly Sentence??

  11. John,  Sorry to hear about the cavities.
    I understand tho.

    I hope the hematoligists give you the ok for the drilling.
    Tooth pain isn't fun.

    Love you and Krissy!  Kate

  12. 5 cavaities isn't all that bad considering all you've been thru!  Enjoy your Sunday.

  13. Good luck John, hope you get the ok for the dental work.  You're lucky it's just cavities to be filled and not any other najor work you need done.  Hang in there.  Have a good day.  Arlene (AJ)

  14. Good luck John - by the way, your alert did come through

  15. John,
    I got your alert, too. But that's okay, I like getting email from nice folks like you.  I understand your feelings about the dentist. NO FUN! But in my 40's I had like 8 root canals, it seemed like all the time. And at first the technique used wasn't as refined and fast as is it is now.  But that passed. And the good thing about that is those teeth will never hurt me again.  And they got capped, so took away future worry over cavities in my molars (molors, whatever!*^($$).  I wish you well, and I know you'll do fine as a cavitiy is a little thing for someone who's been through all the things you have.  Take care & good luck, Best wishes! Merry

  16. John~After all you've been through I don't see you sweating this one! No root canals is good news indeed! I never get alerts so if you feel like sending them yourself that would work for me. Take good care~Hugs, Deb ;-)

  17. after all you have been through, 5 cavities is nothing. you'll get them fixed and you'll be fine. my chemo ruined my teeth, so far i have had 11 pulled and i have 5 more to go. i had to get permission from my cancer doctor before i had those 11 pulled. hoping soon to get other 5 pulled so i can get dentures and be pain free once more. I didn't get your alert for this, glad you sent the email and sorry it's taken me so long to comment. ((((((hugs)))))))

  18. I know how miserable tooth problems can be.  And if they get severe they can effect your whole health.  Glad you are on the ball with it now.  And up to it physically.  Perhaps if you ever (and I hope not!) have to be in the hospital for an extended stay again you can have your toothbrush, paste, water and a little spitoon brought to your bed tray to use.  -  Barbara