Although good dental care is important for everyone, if you struggle with kidney disease it is even more vital. If you have kidney disease, are on dialysis, or are a kidney transplant recipient, you and your dentist should work closely together to achieve optimum dental health. The connection? Inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s way to fight an infection. But chronic or stubborn infections can cause long-term inflammation, which can be harmful. Dental cavities and gum diseases are chronic bacterial infections, and cause chronic inflammation. And the germs from those infections may spread throughout the body, especially if your immune system is weak.
If you are on dialysis, you need healthy teeth to chew the high protein foods your body needs to recover. And dental problems should be addressed prior to or between dialysis appointments, since blood thinning medicine may be administered during dialysis treatments, and dental procedures may cause bleeding.
Transplant Candidates and Recipients
Before a transplant can take place, a dental health exam is required. Since anti-rejection medications administered after a transplant can weaken the immune system, patients are screened and treated for all infections, including dental. Preventing and quickly treating any infections is essential to your health, and to the success of your transplant.
Good Oral Hygiene
Everyone should follow these guidelines for good oral health, but for those with kidney disease, excellent oral hygiene is even more important:
- Brush twice daily for at least two full minutes, making sure to get all surfaces of your teeth. Use a soft bristle toothbrush, and replace it regularly. Floss once a day, and take the time to get between all of your teeth to remove as much bacteria as possible.
- Use a flouride toothpaste, and consider adding a flouride rinse to your routine as well.
- Some drugs used to treat kidney disease can cause a dry mouth, which opens the door to more cavities and gum disease. Chewing sugarless gum between meals can help to increase your saliva, and sucking on sugarless candy can as well.
- Don’t skip your dental appointments, go in twice a year for a thorough exam and cleaning. Your dentist is your partner in watching for and treating any developing issues that could affect your health.
- If you wear dentures, make sure and keep them clean, and remove them at night before sleeping to prevent sores.
Learn more about the dental / kidney connection at the National Kidney Foundation website. If you suffer from kidney disease, schedule an appointment to discuss how we can help with your dental needs!