If you have cirrhosis of the liver, sclerotic liver disease, or chronic hepatitis, then you may experience loss of appetite, jaundiced skin, itching, weight loss, fatigue, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Liver disease may also have a negative effect on your oral health. Because of this, you will need to see a dentist in your area more often for checkups and professional teeth cleanings. Here are some ways that liver disease can lead to poor oral health and what you can do about them.
Excessive Gingival Bleeding
Liver disease can cause problems with your blood platelets. It can cause a low platelet count, and when this happens, you may be more likely to develop abnormal or heavy bleeding when you cut yourself, have surgery, or brush and floss your teeth. You may also experience heavy gingival bleeding during dental exams and routine tooth cleanings. Your blood platelets help keep your blood sticky enough so that it clots normally.
When your platelets are too low, your blood becomes less sticky, and when this happens, it takes your blood longer to clot. If you have liver disease, your doctor may prescribe medication to increase your platelet count. He or she may also recommend that you avoid taking aspirin because it can inhibit platelet aggregation, raising your risk for excessive oral bleeding.
Once your blood platelets revert to normal, heavy bleeding from your gums is less likely to occur. In addition to gingival bleeding, your dentist may also notice that your gums, floor of your mouth, and insides of your cheeks are jaundiced, or yellow. This is the result of elevated bilirubin levels which is a common finding in people who have liver disease.
Dental Abscesses And Gum Infections
Liver disease can suppress your immunity. While diminished immune function is more common in those who have had liver transplants and are receiving immunosuppressant drugs, all types of liver disease can raise your risk for lowered immunity. Because of this, you may have a higher risk of developing severe dental infections known as abscesses and gum infections.
Your dentist may recommend that you increase your intake of vitamin C-rich foods or take a vitamin C supplement to boost immune function while keeping oral infections at bay. Vitamin C is also thought to play an important role in collagen production. Healthy collagen helps keep your gums in good condition so that they are less likely to become inflamed, infected, or bleed. If you opt for vitamin C supplements instead of consuming more vitamin C-rich foods, ask your dentist how much you should take.
Because vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, your body will only retain as much as it needs, and the excess will be flushed out with your urine. In addition, taking large doses of vitamin C can cause heartburn, stomach pain, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
If you develop a severe toothache, swollen gums, drainage coming from your tooth socket or gums, or a bad taste in your mouth, see your dentist as soon as possible. These signs and symptoms may indicate the presence of a severe dental abscess or gum infection. If you are not treated quickly, the infection may spread to your bloodstream and other parts of your body. Also, if a dental abscess is not quickly treated, your dentist may need to extract the infected tooth.
If you have liver disease, see both your dentist and liver specialist on a regular basis. When you do, you may be less likely to develop advanced liver disease as well as oral complications from liver disease such as excessive oral bleeding, gum infections, abscessed teeth, and jaundice of the oral mucous membranes.