Mr Wright's story (Carcinoma of the mouth)


In August 1955 I was diagnosed with carcinoma in the mouth. My symptoms were toothache in the left upper premolar. The carcinoma was eradicated by radiotherapy followed by surgical removal of my left maxilla and a major portion of my palate, and further irradiation inside the cavity. I had permanent loss of the roof of my mouth requiring a special denture referred to as an obturator which fills the antrum ..........
... I know there are more serious cases than mine, but unless I have good treatment, all sorts of stressful problems are encountered which have knock on effects. My files clearly show the gaps and inconsistencies in my treatment over the past 10 years and my struggles to get it. The hospitals locally appear to lack the capacity or experience to deal with prosthetic dentistry as such cases as mine are not frequently seen and in any case they are overloaded with orthodontic work.

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I found the trauma this poor man has been through quite upsetting. That he survived cancer 4 decades before one would hope that all stops would be pulled out to make eating as normal as possible in his 5th decade.
One lesson strikes me. When things start to go wrong keep a detailed diary of appointments and the outcome to be able to list them in a complaint. When things go well write and tell the authorities that too.

Clearly though, more money needs to be spent on hospital based dental consultants/technicians to bring down the waiting times. Along with that there must be better follow up protocols for the dental oral needs of head and neck cancer patients.
Every person may not have suffered cancer, but every single person in the country knows that even a minor tooth problem, broken crown, lost filling can just totally rule your day or week if it's jangling on a nerve. So this patient has had a dreadful oral experience for ten years and problems and further distress have arisen which he may not have had, if he been treated fully and properly years ago.

Never underestimate good dental treatment and a good dentist. I am amazed that the mouth also was not treated as a whole - both upper and lower so the whole treatment would be in synch...It also brings to mind a recent dental experience I had when I saw my dentist for an ache in a tooth. When he xrayed the one side he also xrayed the other saying its best to do both sides (even though it was not 2 years for the non suspect side) to have a clear idea of the state of the whole area. I was so glad - the aching tooth was nothing, but the unneccessary side needed treatment. This pales compared to the problems of this patient, but the point is the same lesson. So look for a dentist who treats the whole mouth top and bottom rather than fixes bits.

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