Are dental implants applicable to cancer patients?
Globally, most cancer cases tend to be that of the head and neck, and most of that tends to be in underdeveloped countries. A combination of ablative surgery and radiotherapy is the most common method of treatment in these cases.
Following this, most patients suffer from defects to the hard and soft tissues, leading to deformity and functional disability. The conventional prosthesis may not be applicable, due to lack of bone support in holding the denture in position.
It is in this situation that dental implants play a crucial role in providing effective rehabilitation with regard to mastication; that is chewing, looks and ability to speak, effectively improving the patient’s quality of life.
A dental implant is a surgical component, usually made of titanium, which connects the bone of the skull or jaw, to the prosthesis that the patient may require. They are usually in the form of a screw with either a rough or smooth surface. Though titanium is most common, ceramic implants are also available.
However, because the implants are placed on irradiated surfaces, the chance of failure is high. Good results, however, are seen with a six-month implant schedule; followed by a six month healing period. Many also recommend a period of six months before implanting in the radiated bone. Good oral hygiene and regular follow-ups also help in avoiding complications.
To conclude: Yes, dental implants are applicable to cancer patients. But, a delayed or stretched out timetable may be advisable for effective dental rehabilitation, stability and integration of the implant with the bone.
Authored By DR. SUDHAKAR REDDY – Implantologist, Bangalore