A recent study suggests that dental screenings given prior to induction chemotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) may yield a reduction in the frequency of infectious dental emergencies associated with induction chemotherapy. These findings were published in JCO Oncology Practice.1

All patients in this prospective, controlled study had newly diagnosed AML and were treated with induction chemotherapy. One subset of patients received dental screenings for acute odontogenic disease prior to induction chemotherapy (“screened group”; 147 patients), and these patients could receive dental treatment if indicated based on the dental screening. Another subset of patients, who did not undergo dental screening before induction, formed a control group (“unscreened group”; 190 patients).

To evaluate whether bias was present in the unscreened group, a third group was also evaluated (“prescreening group”; 304 patients), and this control group included patients who underwent induction chemotherapy at a time before the formation of the screening program. The outcome of interest in this study was the rate of emergency dental assessments experienced in each patient group during admission for induction chemotherapy.

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The screened group showed a rate of infectious odontogenic emergency of 0.68% during induction. This was significantly different from the rate for the unscreened group, which was 4.21% (P =.046). The prescreening group showed a rate of 4.28% for infectious odontogenic emergencies with induction.

The researchers determined that, in this study, a lack of screening for acute odontogenic infections was associated with a 6.25-fold higher rate of infectious odontogenic emergencies (P =.036), compared with having obtained a dental screening prior to induction.

“In summary, clinical dental screenings intended to identify and treat acute odontogenic infections before induction chemotherapy require minimal resources to complete and are an effective means of preventing infectious odontogenic emergencies in patients with AML admitted for induction chemotherapy,” the researchers concluded the researchers.


Watson EE, Metcalfe JE, Kreher MR, Maxymiw WG, Glogauer M, Schimmer AD. Screening for dental infections achieves 6-fold reduction in dental emergencies during induction chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia [published online July 1, 2020]. JCO Oncol Pract. doi: 10.1200/OP.20.00107