Regular dental checkup

Oral Health and Kidney Disease

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Recent studies have linked poor oral health to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and dementia. But did you know that people with kidney disease are also at heightened risk of certain dental problems?

Bad breath

With the diminished function of the kidneys, the levels of the urea in the blood and in the saliva increase. Urea then breaks down to form foul-smelling ammonia that is carried to the lungs and exhaled. This is why people with renal (kidney) disease often develop bad breath (halitosis) and have an unpleasant metallic taste in their mouth.

Gum disease

People with renal problems tend to be at greater risk of gum (periodontal) disease. These people have weaker immune systems and are more likely to pick up infections. Medications used in renal treatments are known to cause dry mouth. Without adequate saliva, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely to occur. Additionally, people with renal kidney complications are not able to absorb calcium efficiently. These changes put kidney patients at risk of losing bone mass in their jaws, causing their teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.

Other oral manifestations

In a study, 90% of patients with chronic renal failure exhibited bothersome occurrences including altered taste perception (particularly sweet and acid flavors), a burning sensation in the lips and tongue and a “feeling” of an enlarged tongue.

Oral health advice for people with renal disease

Due to these oral health concerns, it is especially crucial for people with kidney disease to take extra special care of their teeth and gums. If you have had a kidney transplant, keep your mouth in check for any changes. Be sure to tell your dentist if you have any kidney complications and bring a list of your current medications to your appointments. Certain medications that help suppress your immune system can have serious side effects in your mouth including oral thrush (fungal infection), gum disease, enlarged gums that lead to bleeding and infections and cold sores. Together, you and your dentist can keep your mouth and your overall health in good shape.