Dental Services

The clinical staff of the Division of Oral Medicine and Dentistry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital provides care for thousands of patients each year with complex dental conditions. Our specialists are diplomats of the American Board of Oral Medicine and hold faculty appointments through the Harvard Medical School/Harvard School of Dental Medicine. Our services include:

  • Care for medically complex patients who must be seen in a hospital setting
  • Care for cancer patients who require dental screening prior to:
    • Hematopoietic cell transplantation (bone marrow transplantation)
    • Radiation therapy for management of head and neck cancer
  • Treatment for patients under general anesthesia

Dental Services Topics

Dental Services for Medically Complex Patients

Medically complex patients may require their dental care to be provided in a hospital setting. This includes those who have low blood counts, bleeding disorders and coagulopathies.

Dental Services for Cancer Patients

Patients undergoing treatment for cancer are at risk for developing various oral complications, including dental infections. While many cancer therapy regimens are associated with oral complications and side effects, those at highest risk include patients undergoing hematopoietic cell (bone marrow) transplantation for blood cancers and patients undergoing head and neck radiation therapy for head and neck cancers.

Our specialists provide expert consultative services in collaboration with other specialists at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center including:

Dental Screening for Patients Undergoing Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation

Hematopoietic cell transplantation (bone marrow transplantation) is a medical procedure used to treat a number of conditions affecting the bone marrow including leukemia and lymphoma.

Hematopoietic cell transplantation is associated with an increased risk of infection:

  • This treatment causes the blood counts to fall and places patients at risk for infections until the counts return to normal.
  • Bacteria present in the mouth may contribute to the development of fever and sepsis (blood poisoning) when counts are low. Such sepsis requires treatment with powerful antibiotics and can increase the length of the hospital stay.

If you have been identified as a potential candidate for hematopoietic cell (bone marrow) transplantation, you will need to see your local dentist as soon as possible for an evaluation. You will be at risk for developing infections during your hospitalization, as well as for a period of time after you are discharged. We will work closely with your dentist to prepare you for your hematopoietic cell transplantation by reducing your risk of oral infection as best as possible.

  • Please ask your dentist to complete the forms that were included in the materials given to you by your transplant coordinator or those listed below. One of our oral medicine specialists will review your dental evaluation and radiographs that have been sent by your dentist and will communicate with him/her to make sure your treatment plan is appropriate.
  • You or your dentist can call the BWH Division of Oral Medicine and Dentistry at (617) 732-6570 with any questions.
  • If you do not have a dentist, please speak with your transplant coordinator.

Access more information about hematopoietic cell transplantation.

Download Provider Letter for Dental Screening Prior to Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Download Dental Evaluation Instructions for Dental Screening Prior to Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation.

Dental Screening for Patients Undergoing Head and Neck Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy to the head and neck can lead to significant acute and complications that sometime develop after radiation. Our specialists developed the dental evaluation and screening program for patients undergoing radiation therapy of the head and neck region in order to reduce the risk of developing complications. Oral complications of head and neck radiation therapy can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Mucositis (mouth sores)
  • Oral infections
  • Jaw osteonecrosis

For more information about head and neck cancer treatment at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center.

If you have been scheduled for head and neck radiation therapy, you will need to see your local dentist as soon as possible for an evaluation. The goal of this evaluation is to reduce the risk as much as possible of developing acute and late oral complications. We will work closely with your dentist to prepare you for your radiation therapy.

  • Your local dentist will need to complete the forms that were included in the materials given to you by your nurse at DF/BWCC or those listed below. One of our oral medicine specialists will review your dental evaluation and radiographs that are sent by your local dentist and communicate with him/her to make sure your treatment plan is appropriate.
  • If you do not have a dentist, please speak with your care coordinator.

Download Provider Letter for Head and Neck Cancer Therapy Patients.

Download Dental Evaluation Instructions for Head and Neck Cancer Therapy Patients.

Referring Physicians and Dentists

We work closely with referring physicians and dentists as a team to determine the most appropriate individualized treatment plan in light of previous therapies and ongoing medical care.

Learn more information about how to refer a patient.

Patient Education Materials

Access our extensive library of information about oral medicine topics written for patients by our team of experts.

Our Care Team

The Oral Medicine and Dentistry care team is made up of oral medical specialists, oral medical residents and other health care professionals who work together to provide you with expert care. Before being seen by one of our specialists, an oral medicine resident (working under the supervision of the oral medicine specialist) will meet with you to review your medical history and conduct an examination. The specialist will then see you together with the resident. You may also meet residents from other disciplines such as oral and maxillofacial pathology and dermatology as well as pre-doctoral students from Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Harvard Medical School. We are always careful to ensure that the teaching and educational activities in the clinic do not in any way interfere with patient care.

Multidisciplinary Care

Our specialists have direct access to a broad range of laboratory and diagnostic facilities including intraoral and panoramic digital radiography, CT and other advanced imaging modalities, microbiological testing, and clinical and surgical pathology services. In addition, our doctors actively collaborate with other world-renowned Brigham and Women’s Hospital specialists in disciplines including oncology, hematology, cardiology, immunology, dermatology, rheumatology, and endocrinology.

Our oral medicine specialists, on staff at both Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, have clinical expertise in the management of oncology patients. Our specialists are diplomates of the American Board of Oral Medicine and hold faculty appointments through the Harvard Medical School/Harvard School of Dental Medicine.

Resources

Access our extensive library of information about oral medicine topics written for patients by our team of experts

Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center for Patients and Families to access computers and knowledgeable staff.

Learn more about patient and family services.

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