March is National Kidney Month. Are you experiencing loose teeth or bleeding, swollen or sensitive gums? These are signs of tooth decay or gum disease. If you have kidney disease your oral health is extremely important as it can cause complications. A minor infection for someone without Kidney Disease can turn into a major problem for someone who has kidney disease.
Studies show there is a direct link between gum disease and kidney disease. According to the Journal of Clinical Periodontology people with kidney disease and people on dialysis were shown to be more likely to have gum disease in addition to other oral health problems.
The ConnectionMaintaining good hygiene is imperative, especially if you have kidney disease. Your body’s natural response to infection and bacteria is inflammation. The inflammation is what helps your body fight off infection. If infection lingers it can trigger chronic inflammation.
Did you know cavities and gum disease are considered chronic bacterial infections? They can make eating difficult, be painful and cause bad breath. The germs from cavities can travel throughout the body. Weakened immune systems are at greater risk for complications from oral infections. If you have kidney disease more than likely your immune system is weakened making you more susceptible to gum disease. (Kidney transplant patients, you are also at risk. The medications that help prevent rejection of a kidney can weaken your immune system making you susceptible to oral health issues.)
Tips for a Healthy SmileSince your overall health is directly related to your oral health, here are some tips to staying healthy. These tips can help you prevent tooth decay and gum disease:
- Brush your teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush at least twice a day, for 2 minutes each time (usually in the morning when you wake up and before you go to bed)
- Flossing between each tooth at least once a day (before bed)
- Using a mouth rinse that does not contain alcohol is important. Alcohol leaves your mouth dry, the direct opposite of what a healthy mouth needs. A dry mouth makes it easier for cavities and gum diseases to develop.
- Seeing your family dentist at least every six months, if not sooner, for a cleaning and dental exam. Your dentist can detect and treat any cavities or gum disease before it becomes a major issue. Coming in even if you don’t have any other dental health issues is preventative medicine.