Speak to a member of our Information Support Team
(Call-back service – 24h answer machine)

020 8973 0011

or email


Beating Bowel Cancer Community

Bowel cancer treatment and side effects


Dental decay post chemo

Wondered if others have experienced extra dental decay post chemo.
Although it is nearly 2 years since my last chemo treatment, my dentist has had to carry out treatment on several teeth. He said that the decay was very unusual for me and he thinks it is probably another ongoing side effect of the chemo. He has said for some time now that my saliva has changed since the chemo. I've been going regularly to the same dentist for nearly 20 years so he's obviously familiar with what is normal for me.


Alva, Chemo is known to attack the Teeth, its usually advisable to have your Teeth scaled prior to any Chemo as I believe that it can attack any plaque, I lost a Tooth and had to have a bridge repaired not long after my chemo and I'm convinced that was the cause

Tony M


@Alva This is interesting. My saliva glands no longer work effectively and I have to use artificial spray. My mouth is always dry and nothing seems to work to keep it moist. I have also had additional dental treatment. Hugs, B :x:


Thanks @Brian @tonym that's helpful. It's frustrating when people assume that you're back to normal as soon as chemo ends


Hi @Alva

I had a dental check and scale and polish a few days before chemotherapy. I believe Leeds University are doing a clinical trial on pre-chemotherapy patients comparing those having and not having a dental check up and scale & polish. :)

springer michelle

@Alva, back to normal after chemo! Never lol :x:

Polly 1

Hubby had his 6 monthly check up today and has scale and polish booked for Thursday.
The dentist said he could get away without a scale and polish and it could wait until after chemo if he wanted. We see the Oncologist on Saturday to find out next steps - thought he had better be prepared for more chemo so wanted teeth squeaky clean :)


Hi @Alva I was always led to believe that chemotherapy can have a detrimental effect on teeth but I'm unsure exactly why. ????❤️


Thanks for the replies @GD1962 @springer michelle @Polly 1 @Baxter2 My dentist did full check ups etc before both lines of chemo so I was well prepared. Interesting about the trial - always good to know about the ongoing research. The chemo apparently alters saliva so makes people more prone to bacteria causing dental problems


Since finishing chemo a year ago my teeth have become very sensitive, due apparently to hair line cracks. On top of everything else, this is just not fair!


We were given a very helpful booklet about oral hygiene when David started his last round of chemo. He made sure he'd had all the dental,work needed before he started. One of the things recommended was a home made salt water mouth wash to be used after every meal.


@Brian I have the same problem and was told by the dentist to try Xylimetts, and it works.


@Lizalou @Daffodil @"Jon-T" Thanks all - useful info. I look forward to the future when chemotherapy is a thing of the past!


@"Jon-T" Thanks for the tip. I will definitely give it a try. hugs, B :x:


Thanks for that tip @"Jon-T" - will be passing that on to my brother.


Hi @Alva etc
Following my previous post, half a tooth has fallen out! I asked the dentist today and he explained that chemo affects cell growth so that involves gums and nerves but not the teeth themselves. So my crumbling teeth are just another thing to moan about but I can't blame cancer.


Sorry to hear that @Lizalou but thanks for the info. A dentist friend has also told me that he finds that patients dental health also suffers when they've been hospitalised,as there is often less opportunity to clean teeth and gums properly. This was certainly my experience; either I was too ill to even think of using toothbrush and floss or it was more difficult to get the chance to do so. If you can't get out of bed, you're dependent upon others providing you with bowel, cup etc.


Just looked up this thread as I have been having real problems with my teeth 6 months post last lot of chemo. Nerve died in tooth followed by tooth then fracturing before they could do root canal so this Friday having tooth out and bridge fitted! I thought I was just unlucky! And scan results next Monday so not a good week☹️