The Dental-Cancer Care Connection

Youngsters with cancer are getting special help to keep their smiles bright.

The new Henry Schein Oral Health Navigator Program helps ensure dental procedures are handled at the right time and in the right way for young cancer patients — helping them to avoid oral health complications during treatment.

"It's important to make it easier to get kids who are battling cancer into the dental office," said Ronald Burakoff, DMD, chair of dental medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. "Dental disease is essentially an infection, and these kids have compromised immune systems. We want to get rid of any existing dental disease to help them be as healthy as they can be before and during cancer treatment."

A partnership between Cohen Children's Medical Center and the Henry Schein Cares Foundation, the program uses an on-site navigator to coordinate care among a patient's family, the medical team and a dental professional.

The program benefits kids with cancer and their families by making them active partners in their oral health care through education and counseling provided by the navigator. Addressing dental concerns first makes successful treatment outcomes more likely, and kids experience less pain and can keep their smiles healthy as they move toward adulthood.

"Our navigators are constantly making rounds, so they develop relationships with the kids," Dr. Burakoff said. "The navigators and dentists have become a true part of the team providing care for these patients."

Read the Fall 2016 issue of Kids First.

Focus onHealth TV

Watch Focus onHealth, Northwell Health's TV show. It's the healthy way to stay informed!