If you have been diagnosed with renal failure, your doctor may have ordered a therapeutic diet, a fluid restrictive diet, diuretic medications, or even kidney dialysis to ease your symptoms. These symptoms may include body-wide swelling or fluid retention, inability to urinate, itchy skin, sleepiness, poor appetite, and confusion. Though these are some of the most common symptoms of renal failure, it can also lead to problems inside your mouth. Here are three ways renal failure can cause oral infections and what you can do about them.
1. Dry Mouth
If your kidneys are failing, you may become dehydrated. In addition to dry skin, sunken eyes, weakness, dizziness, headache, and scant urinary output, dehydration can cause your mouth to become very dry.
When your salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva to wash away infection-causing bacteria inside your mouth, you may be at a heightened risk for developing gum or dental infections.
If you suffer from a dry mouth as a result of renal failure, let your dentist know so that your oral status can be more closely monitored. In addition, talk to your primary care physician about drinking more water. While drinking plenty of water is one of the main interventions for dry mouth, it can be dangerous for people with kidney failure to drink unlimited amounts of fluids. If your doctor has recommended that you stay on a fluid restricted diet, chew sugarless gum or use an enzyme-based mouthwash to help restore oral moisture.
2. Systemic Inflammation
Renal failure can also promote the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals inside your body known as cytokines. This can lead to systemic inflammation, including inflammation inside your mouth.
Because of a body-wide inflammatory response, you may develop gingival hyperplasia or gum overgrowth. This severe type of gum swelling can make it difficult for you to effectively get your teeth clean because gum tissue can grow over the tops of your teeth and even in between your teeth.
If you develop gum swelling as a result of renal failure, see your dentist on a regular basis for professional dental cleanings. As your kidney function improves, so might the condition of your gums.
3. Medication Side Effects
Certain medications that are used in the management of kidney disease and renal failure may raise the risk for gingivitis. These include diuretics, or "water pills." People who take diuretics urinate more frequently, which can be a risk factor in the development of dehydration and subsequent dry mouth.
Your prescription medications may also lead to upper digestive distress such as acid reflux or heartburn. If your acid reflux becomes severe and if stomach acid travels up into your throat and oral cavity, you may be at risk for gum inflammation and acid erosion of your teeth.
Your dentist will be able to determine if you have acid erosion and will recommend an appropriate treatment to help prevent further damage. Also, if the oral side effects from your medications are intolerable, talk to your physician, who may be able to lower your dosage or change the medications to ones that are less likely to cause oral problems.
It is important to note, that while renal failure is more common in adults, it can also occur in children. Pediatric dentistry professionals are trained in the management of renal failure-related oral problems in children, so if your child is diagnosed with kidney disease, make an appointment his or her dentist as soon as possible.
If you have renal failure, work with your dentist and primary physician to help ensure that your gums, teeth, and a general state of health remain in the best possible condition.
Up until a year ago, I did my best to keep my teeth and gums clean. But after securing a new job, I began to work late into the night and didn't have the time or energy to brush and floss before I retired to bed. My busy schedule and poor dental hygiene finally affected my teeth and gums. After experiencing severe pain in several of my teeth, I made an appointment with my dentist. My dentist examined my mouth and discovered three large cavities in my molars. After four long weeks, my dentist finally completed my dental work. I learned a very painful lesson during that time. No matter how busy you are, always brush and floss. I started this blog to inform other people about the importance of good dental care. I hope you find the time to read it. Thanks for visiting.