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Orthodontics and Cancer: Can I get Braces after Chemo?

Hold on a second, why do my braces need to be removed?

Before undergoing high dose chemotherapy, patients are often advised to have their fixed orthodontic appliances, such as braces, removed to help limit the bacterial load in the mouth and to prevent the risk of developing an infection. Nonetheless, this is not always indicated and deciding whether or not to remove braces before undergoing cancer therapy should be discussed with your dentist, orthodontist, and oncologist.

What about wearing a retainer?

It is often not recommended that patients wear removable appliances when their counts or low or they have mucositis as these appliances may aggravate the mucositis. It is important to note, though, that without appropriate retention, as advised by your orthodontist, your teeth may not "retain" their post-orthodontic position. As stated above, the extent and frequency of when a removable appliance may be worn whilst undergoing chemotherapy should be discussed with your dentist, oncology team, and orthodontist.

Okay, so when can I get them back on?

The general consensus among the dental community is that orthodontic treatment should not start or continue until the patient has completed therapy and has been declared disease-free for at least two years. Of course the decision to start orthodontic treatment should be discussed first with the oncology team as some of the cancer therapy that the patient may have received may affect the orthodontic treatment plan and goals. For example, special attention should be paid to patients with a history of bisphosphonate therapy. It is also recommended that patients visit their dentist prior to undergoing orthodontic treatment to first treat any dental disease such as cavities or soft tissue infections.

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