Renal Cell Live!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Dentally Challenged

A recent article in the AARP Bulletin, "Nothing to Smile About," highlighted the woeful state of dental health for retirees and people on fixed income. I'm lucky to be able to get dental insurance through my disability retirement. The coverage isn't great, though, and I've not yet used it in part because I know nothing about the dentists who participate in the plan.

I'm actually being pretty stupid about it - I don't like going to dentists at all, period. But I have an excellent, compelling reason to go and get a checkup at the very least. I take monthly infusions of Zometa to combat high blood calcium levels, or hypercalcemia. Cancer patients who receive bisphosphonate treatments like Zometa for bone-related complications can develop a delightful (ha) complication known as osteonecrosis of the jaw. This is, literally, "bone death" and generally manifests itself following invasive dental treatments, though it has been reported to occur spontaneously in some patients. The American Dental Assocation provides a summary article on this topic, and the Journal of Oncology Practice gives recommendations on dental management for cancer patients receiving bisphosphonates.

I have all my own teeth and have tried hard over the years to maintain them - 5 crowns and numerous fillings - but some of these "fixes" are 30 or more years old. I've had dreams about this recently. Guess it's time to bite the bullet (so to speak) and schedule an appointment, if only to put my mind at rest, eh?

Wildlife distractions - a kestrel has begun perching on the martin rack; the other night five deer flushed out of one field to another in front of the car as we drove up the lane; today a coyote loped through the pasture. Never a dull moment.

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