Taking good care of your teeth and gums is important for everybody, but especially transplant recipients.
Why is dental health more important for me as a transplant recipient?
In transplant recipients, the immune system is suppressed by anti-rejection medications to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ, meaning it is less able to fight plaque bacteria. It might be necessary to take antibiotics before and after some dental treatments to fight any bacteria that may get into your bloodstream.
If you do not take good care of your teeth and gums you might develop gum disease. This is when plaque bacteria build up under your gums causing swelling and a type of infection. This can be dangerous because the bacteria can enter your bloodstream, which in turn can increase the risk of other health problems, such as heart disease.
In addition to heart disease, a range of other problems are associated with poor dental health and are displayed below.
Why am I at a higher risk of poor dental health?
Not only do anti-rejection drugs mean your body is less able to fight plaque bacteria, but also the anti-rejection drug ciclosporin and some drugs used to lower blood pressure can cause enlarged gums. This can make it more difficult to clean your teeth properly and lead to gum disease.
What should I do?
Make sure your dentist is aware that you are a transplant recipient and are taking anti-rejection medications, as you might need antibiotics before or after having dental treatment. Also, your dentist may need to adapt any pain relief medication you may need so that it will not interfere with your other medications.
Keep your teeth and gums healthy by brushing twice a day and visit your dentist regularly. Smoking can affect your health in many ways, including making gum disease worse. If you smoke, talk to your doctor or transplant team about ways to help you stop.