Weill Cornell Bone Marrow Transplant Program

Oral Care

Managing Oral Hygiene Before, During and After Transplant

We grow up learning certain truths regarding the need to brush-our teeth at least twice-a-day and visit the dentist on a regular basis, but during cancer treatment including transplant our mouth needs can change and there are additional precautions that need to take place.

After your transplant, your immune system is compromised and because of that, you’re at an increased risk of bacterial, viral and fungal infections including your mouth. Any dental work, which could cause further infection, should either be done well before the transplant or, if advised by your physician and dentist, after you’re fully recovered from your transplant.

Another reason dental work should be delayed until after you’ve recovered is because as a transplant patient, you are likely taking one or more medications that affect dental treatment. It is possible that immunosuppressive drugs can cause overgrowth of your gums, infections and general poor healing and could interact with commonly prescribed medications. Additionally, anticoagulant medications may contribute to excessive bleeding problems. Your physician may want to adjust these medications several days before an invasive dental procedure.

As a general rule of thumb, you should take care of any dental work once your transplant has stabilized, which typically occurs within three to six months after the transplant. If you need dental work, you, your physician and dentist should discuss your treatment and will then clear you for dental work at the appropriate time.

At Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian, we provide supportive oral care before, during and after cancer treatment. To make an appointment with a dentist at our center who specializes in treating cancer patients, please call Dr. Heidi Hansen at 212-746-5115.