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Greensboro, NC 27408

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Greensboro Dental Clinic, Dr. Margaret Szott

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March 10th, 2020

Dental Health and Kidney Disease

Excellent oral and dental hygiene can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease and keep your breath smelling minty fresh.  Some researchers have discovered that a healthy mouth may also help you ward off other serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, and poorly controlled diabetes.. A study in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology reported that people with kidney disease and those on dialysis are more likely to have periodontal disease and other oral health problems than the general population. 

Tooth decay is damage to the tooth’s hard surfaces and happens when bacteria in your mouth make acids that attack the enamel. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to
infection and tooth loss. Gum disease, which consists of gingivitis and periodontitis, is a common infection that damages the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. It starts when a sticky, film-like substance called plaque is filled with bacteria and builds up under and along the gum line. While gum disease can lead to tooth loss, steps can be taken to prevent and even reverse it.

People with kidney disease have weakened immune systems thus making them more susceptible to infections caused by tooth decay and gum disease. For example, when a healthy person gets an infection, the body goes into a defense mode.  The infected area becomes inflamed in an effort to  kill the germs. Cavities and gum disease are chronic bacterial infections that become seriously harmful for those with kidney disease if they are left untreated because their bodies are unable to produce an immune response.     .

Patients with kidney disease are advised to inform their dentists about their problem and whether or not they are on dialysis.  They physician managing the kidney problem may recommend antibiotics be taken before dental procedures.  Dental procedures should occur on a day when the patient is not undergoing dialysis since people on dialysis may receive blood-thinning medication during their treatments to prevent clotting. 

Proper oral hygiene will help ward off tooth decay and gum disease and limit dental procedures that may interfere with treatment for kidney disease. It is important to:

  • Brush twice daily with a soft bristle brush and floss at least once a day to remove plaque and excess food particles.
  • Use a fluoridated toothpaste to help strengthen teeth against cavities. Ask your dentist at your next appointment for recommendations.
  • Dry mouth is often a side effect of medications used to treat  kidney disease.  Dry mouth makes it easier for cavities and gum disease to develop.  Salivary flow can be stimulated by chewing sugarless gum.   
  • Scheduling and attending regular dental exams, at least twice a year, can help detect problem areas that may develop.


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3150 North Elm Street
Suite 210
Greensboro, NC 27408
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