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Kidney disease: understanding oral health challenges

When you have kidney disease, managing your oral health can be more complicated. You’ll want to work with both your physician and your dentist to balance the needs of your oral and overall health.

I have kidney disease. What should I tell my dentist?

Make sure your dentist knows what’s going on with your overall health and who your medical doctor is so that they can work together to ensure the best health outcomes for you.

Tell your dentist:

  • What medications you’re taking
  • If you’re on dialysis
  • If you have a stent and where it is located
  • If you notice your teeth becoming loose – this can be a sign of a calcium imbalance
  • If you have diabetes
  • If your mouth frequently feels dry

What oral health complications can kidney disease cause?

Studies have shown that people with kidney disease and people who are on dialysis are more likely to have oral health problems like gum disease than those with no kidney issues. When you have kidney disease, you're more susceptible to infection because of your weakened immune system.

If your kidney disease is the result of having diabetes, then you may have additional issues such as dry mouth, which can be a side effect of medication and illness. Dry mouth affects your ability to produce saliva, which normally helps clean your mouth and teeth. As a result, you are at higher risk of bacteria and plaque building up and leading to gum disease and tooth decay. There are several over-the-counter aids for dry mouth, so be sure to tell your dentist if you’re having problems and ask for a recommendation.

How does diabetes play into kidney disease?

Diabetes can be the cause of chronic kidney disease and can make you prone to additional oral health dangers, including:

  • Fungal infections
  • Cavities (tooth decay)
  • Salivary gland problems
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Delayed healing and infections

What if I need to have a dental procedure? Is it safe?

If you have kidney disease and are scheduled to have a dental procedure, be sure to tell your physician. Your dentist should also be aware that you have kidney disease or are on dialysis. It is possible antibiotics will be prescribed before your dental procedure to help reduce the risk of infection. If you are on dialysis, make sure you schedule your dental procedure on a non-treatment day. Once your procedure is finished and you’re recovering, follow your dentist’s instructions carefully and maintain your oral hygiene.

Remember: Be upfront about your kidney and oral health issues and make sure you communicate to both your doctor and dentist on a regular basis. Make sure to get regular cleanings and exams to avoid dental problems like gum disease and tooth decay. This is especially important if you suffer from kidney disease.

Last updated February 11, 2022

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.