Veterans, we’ve got your six

Written by Kristen Zapata

A new grant helps veterans with blood cancers receive dental care

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society projected that in 2023, over 184,000 new cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma would be diagnosed in the United States. Treatment advancements for these cancers, such as targeted cell therapy, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants and radiation therapy have greatly improved survival rates, according to the Blood Cancer Journal.

Veterans face unique challenges due to exposures from hazardous substances encountered during military service, resulting in over 4,000 new diagnoses of blood cancers annually, said UT Dentistry Chief Dental Officer Micaela Gibbs, DDS, MHA.

The same treatments for these cancers also carry risks for oral complications, which can significantly impact quality of life.

Oral complications affect about one-third of patients receiving cancer treatment, including infections, inflammation, dry mouth, temporomandibular joint spasms and drug-induced osteoradionecrosis of the jaw, a severe condition involving painful bone loss.


UT Dentistry, the dental practice of The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio School of Dentistry, assists veterans with poor dental health who are preparing to undergo cancer treatment and have exhausted
their dental benefits.

“Dental procedures required before, during or after cancer treatment may not be covered by health insurance plans, adding to the patient’s burden,” said Gibbs. “This can adversely affect not only the cancer patient’s dental health but their overall well-being, as oral complications can impede cancer treatment outcomes.”

The dental practice recently acquired funding from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for $100,000 to ensure that veterans without dental benefits in the San Antonio service area receive the necessary care throughout their treatment for hematologic cancers.

UT Dentistry is equipped with a comprehensive range of dental specialties to provide coordinated care with Veterans Affairs partners.

“Improving a patient’s baseline dental health before treatment significantly reduces known risk factors for oral complications resulting from radiation and chemotherapy,” said Gibbs.


Each veteran’s health care team of physicians and dentists will determine funding on a case-by-case basis by identifying resources, urgency of need and potential impact on disease outcomes. Funding will exclusively support critical-need procedures before, during and after cancer treatment.

Supporting veterans’ oral health is crucial for their overall well-being. Gibbs said that UT Dentistry is proud to ensure veterans receive the necessary dental care to enhance their quality of life and face these challenging diseases.

For more information, call 210-450-3700 to be connected with the Office of Patient Care.

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In the 2023 issue of Salute

Salute is the official magazine for the alumni and friends of the School of Dentistry at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Read and share inspiring stories highlighting our dental alumni, faculty and students who are revolutionizing education, research, patient care and critical services in the communities they serve.

View the 2023 issue

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