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Dental Advice if You Have Kidney Disease

If you have kidney disease, you may need to take extra care of your teeth and gums. That’s because you may be at risk for certain mouth problems.

For example, people with kidney disease may develop bad breath. This is caused by a metabolic problem that produces chemicals. These chemicals are exhaled through the lungs, and can cause bad breath. But good oral health habits go a long way toward controlling these problems. To control bad breath, brush your teeth gently at least twice a day, paying special attention to the gum line, and floss at least once a day.Brushing the tongue is also helpful because many of the odor-causing bacteria are located on the back of the tongue.

Also, don’t smoke. It’s bad for teeth, and it raises the risk for heart attack and stroke in people with kidney disease.

If You’ve Had a Transplant

Some people with serious kidney disease need a kidney transplant to help them remove waste from their body. If you have had a transplant, you probably take anti-rejection medicine that helps suppress your immune system. However, this medicine can have serious side effects in your mouth. They include:

  • Sores in the lining of your mouth

  • Thrush, a fungal infection that causes white patches in the mouth

  • Gum disease, or periodontitis

  • Dry mouth

  • Enlarged gums that lead to bleeding and infections

  • Oral cancer

If you’ve had a kidney transplant, check your mouth daily for any changes. Call your dentist or doctor if you notice anything different.

Communicate with Your Dentist

Be sure to tell your dentist if you have kidney disease or have had a transplant. Bring a list of your current medicines to each appointment. Together, you can keep your kidneys and your mouth in good shape.

“Halitosis.” American Academy of Family Physicians, September 2010. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/halitosis.html. Accessed 2013.

“The Kidneys and How They Work.” National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, February 2009. kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/yourkidneys/ Accessed 2013.

“Organ Transplantation and Your Mouth.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, April 2011. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/OrganTransplantationOralHealth/OrganTransplantPatient.htm. Accessed 2013.

“Breath Odor.” Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, February 22, 2012. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003058.htm Accessed 2013.

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