Renal Consult

Dental Health: What It Means in Kidney Disease

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Q) I teach nephrology at a local PA program, and they want us to integrate dental care into each module. What’s the connection between the two?

Dental health is frequently overlooked in the medical realm, as many clinicians feel that dental issues are out of our purview. Hematuria worries us, but bleeding gums and other signs of periodontal disease are often ignored. Surprisingly, many patients don’t seem to mind when their gums bleed every time they brush; they believe that this is normal, when really, it’s not.

Growing evidence supports associations between dental health and multiple medical issues—chronic kidney disease (CKD) among them. Periodontal disease is one of several inflammatory diseases caused by an interaction between gram-negative periodontal bacterial species and the immune system. It manifests with sore, red, bleeding gums and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

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