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Sickle cell disease (SCD) affects approximately a hundred thousand individuals in the U.S.A. Along with many medical issues, these individuals also suffer from dental problems. This study, published in Clinical and Experimental Dental Research, explores the dental issues and complications experienced by patients with SCD.

This retrospective study was performed in New York and included 47 patients with SCD. The patients were 19 to 53 years old, with a mean age of 31 years, and 68% of the patients were women. All of the patients were African American except for two patients with Hispanic ethnicity. Most of the patients had not received regular dental exams and did not practice adequate oral hygiene maintenance.

Ultimately it was found that 78.7% of patients were seen at a dental clinic versus dental urgent care, an oral-maxillofacial surgeon’s office, or the emergency department. In 72.3% of patients, dental caries, broken teeth, and fractured restorations were the most common reasons for the visit. In addition, 6.4% of patients had a dental infection, and 21.3% had other dental problems, with only one patient having periodontal issues at the time of the first visit.

The most common procedure patients underwent was extraction, which was performed in 36.2% of patients. Palliative therapy was the second most commonly administered treatment, with 27.7% of patients receiving a prescription or referral for pain management. Lastly, 25.5% of patients received filling placements, and 10.6% received dental cleaning.

Complications including pain or oozing after the dental procedure were reported by five patients. Two patients had to go to the emergency department, and three were hospitalized due to post-dental treatment complications. None of the patients experienced a vaso-occlusive crisis after undergoing a dental procedure. However, a new, statistically significant association was found between the number of prescription medications taken and complications after a dental procedure.

This study concluded that given the number of dental issues and complications faced by patients with SCD, these patients should be supported in practicing preventive dental care to optimize their dental health [1].

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Gusmini, M. A. D. S., de Sa, A. C., Feng, C., & Arany, S. (2020). Predictors of dental complications post‐dental treatment in patients with sickle cell disease. Clinical and Experimental Dental Research, 7(1), 11–19. https://doi.org/10.1002/cre2.335