The Link Between Kidney Disease and Oral Health

a hand holding a model of a kidney

The Link Between Kidney Disease and Oral Health

Most people already know that maintaining good oral health requires daily brushing and flossing along with regular trips to the dentist. But what many people don’t realize is that there is a link between certain systemic conditions and oral health. 

For instance, chronic kidney disease (CKD) has been associated with an increased risk of dental problems such as gum disease and dry mouth. In turn, the state of your oral health can potentially influence the progression of kidney disease. In this post, we’ll explore the links between kidney disease and dental health. 

How Chronic Kidney Disease Can Affect Your Oral Health

Chronic kidney disease is a progressive condition that impairs the kidneys’ ability to filter waste and maintain fluid balance. But the impact of CKD extends beyond the kidneys—here’s how it can affect your teeth and gums, too. 

Periodontal Problems

Studies have shown that people on dialysis are more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease. This is because chronic kidney disease weakens your immune system, leaving the body more susceptible to infections.

Periodontal disease is a severe infection of the gums that causes them to become red, puffy, and bleed easily. Without treatment, the infection can reach below the gum line to attack the structures that support your teeth. Eventually, gum disease will result in bone loss and tooth loss if it is not treated.  

Dry Mouth

Reduced kidney function can lead to dehydration, contributing to dry mouth. Inadequate saliva production increases the risk of cavities and gum disease, because your body needs sufficient saliva flow to help rid the mouth of bacteria. 

Bad Breath

Chronic kidney disease can also lead to the accumulation of waste products in the blood. This can lead to bad breath, particularly breath that smells like ammonia. Dry mouth associated with kidney disease can also lead to bad breath as a result of bacteria buildup in the form of plaque.   

How Poor Dental Health Can Affect Your Kidneys

Periodontitis and Inflammation

Periodontitis causes inflammation of the gums. This inflammatory response may spread beyond the mouth, contributing to systemic inflammation and potentially accelerating the progression of kidney disease. A recent study showed that a 10% increase in gum inflammation caused a 3% reduction in kidney function. Treating gum disease and reducing gum inflammation could help improve kidney function. 

Bacterial Infections

Periodontitis also causes bleeding gums, which allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream more easily. The infectious bacteria that cause gum disease can then travel to other parts of the body, including the kidneys, potentially causing infections and further impairing kidney function. 

What to Tell Your Dentist if You Have Kidney Disease

If you have kidney disease, effective communication with your dentist is crucial. Here’s what you should share during your dental visits:

Medical History

Inform your dentist about your kidney disease diagnosis, including any medications you are taking and whether or not you are on dialysis. Kidney disease is often a result of diabetes, another condition that can increase your risk of dental problems, so make sure to let your dentist know if you have diabetes as well. This information will help your dentist tailor your treatments to your specific health needs. 

Symptoms and Concerns

You should also communicate any oral health symptoms or concerns you may have, such as dry mouth, loose teeth, or bleeding gums. Early detection and management of these issues is essential for individuals with chronic kidney disease, since CKD can exacerbate these conditions. 

Compassionate Dental Care in Sun Lakes

Understanding the intricate links between kidney disease and oral health can help you take a more proactive approach to your dental care. If you’re due for a checkup, please don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Saba and Associates. We’re dedicated to providing personalized and compassionate dental care to adults in the Sun Lakes community. Give us a call at  480-895-2111 today to schedule an appointment. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/21/2024). Photo by Robina Weermeijer on Unsplash