Is Cosmetic Dentistry Safe For People With Neutropenia?

Chronic neutropenia is a rare blood disorder that only affects around 1 in 100,000 people in the United States. While neutropenia is rare, the condition can lead to a range of complications that can make life difficult, and the disease can affect several parts of the body. Learn how neutropenia affects the body, and find out how this could affect the safety of cosmetic dental treatments.

How neutropenia affects the body

Your blood contains vital white blood cells called neutrophils. These neutrophils help your body fight off bacterial infection by surrounding and destroying any unwanted bacteria that appear. If you have neutropenia, your body doesn't have enough of these important blood cells, which makes it harder for you to fight off an infection.

People with neutropenia most commonly experience infections in their lungs, mouth, throat and skin. According to the severity of the condition, neutropenia can lead to life-threatening complications. People with a serious infection may need emergency care to deal with the issue, but ongoing problems are also common. Periodontal disease, mouth ulcers and gum infections are common oral problems that people with neutropenia experience.

Neutropenia symptoms

Certain groups of people are at higher risk of neutropenia. People with autoimmune diseases are more likely to get the condition, and neutropenia is also a possible side effect of cancer. To make matters worse, it's often difficult to spot the signs of neutropenia, even if the condition causes dental and oral problems.

Swelling, redness and soreness all normally occur when you suffer an infection in your mouth, but if you have neutropenia you may not see these symptoms. It is the neutrophils attacking the infection that will cause these problems, so if you have neutropenia, this sort of infection will often go unnoticed. As such, you may not realize you have the disease.

Diagnosing the problem

If you are in a high-risk group, your doctor will normally suggest tests to help diagnose neutropenia. To conclusively diagnose the condition, he or she will take blood cell counts, but you may need other tests, including a bone marrow diagnostic.

Your dentist may suggest that you undergo tests for the condition if you have certain persistent problems. For example, people with the condition often suffer oral yeast infections and/or persistent mouth ulcers that don't respond to treatment.

Neutropenia and cosmetic dentistry

Invasive dental procedures increase the risk of infection for everyone, but if you have neutropenia, you may find it even harder to recover. For example, a tooth extraction leaves an open wound that may quickly become susceptible to infection if your body doesn't produce enough neutrophils to target the problem.

People with neutropenia can have cosmetic procedures, but you may need to take extra measures to cut the risk of an infection. Your dentist may ask you to get an updated blood count from your doctor, to see if your neutrophil level is higher or lower than normal. Where your neutrophils are low, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics before any sort of treatment to improve your body's ability to fight the infection.

After a cosmetic procedure, you'll need to take all necessary precautions to avoid an infection. Your dentist will show you how to brush and floss in the days and weeks after your treatment, and you may need to use a special antiseptic mouthwash. Your dentist can tell you which products to use. You should avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as this ingredient can aggravate sensitive oral tissues.

Neutropenia and implant failure

If your neutropenia is severe, certain cosmetic treatments may become unsuitable for you. Healthy soft tissue is vital to the ongoing recovery and stability of dental implants, and a bad case of neutropenia can weaken the area around an implant, eventually leading to failure. In serious cases, your cosmetic dentist may discuss alternative options. For example, a partial or full denture may offer a more viable alternative for somebody with severe neutropenia.

Neutropenia is a serious blood disorder that can make it difficult to prevent or get rid of an infection. Talk a dentist such as Samuel D Knight, DDS for more information about how this condition could interfere with any planned cosmetic treatments.