Do you suspect you might have anaemia? Or have you been recently diagnosed? You might notice some strange things happening in your mouth and wonder how anaemia impacts your oral health. Anaemia can vary in severity and symptoms, so keep reading to learn what it might mean for your teeth and gums.
Anaemia Gums and Your Oral Health
How Anaemia Affects Oral Tissue
Anaemia occurs when your body does not create a sufficient amount of red blood cells. Because these cells carry oxygen throughout your bloodstream, anaemia can keep the body from getting the oxygen it needs. This can lead to various symptoms, including fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, and cold hands and feet.
When it comes to your oral health, anaemia can have an interesting impact on your mouth. Some of these symptoms include:
- Paleness. Anaemia can cause your gums to be pale, which some have labeled "anaemia gums." Instead of a typical, healthy pink, the gums take on a faded or whiter shade of their standard colour. This paleness can also impact the tongue and mucous membranes inside your mouth.
- Glossitis. Anaemia can also cause inflammation of the tongue, known as glossitis. In glossitis with anaemia, the tongue is typically a beefy red colour, appears smooth and swollen, and feels sore and tender.
Chronic anaemia can also put you at risk for other oral health issues, such as gum disease or tooth decay. If you notice any changes in the appearance of your tongue, gums, or surrounding tissue, let your dentist know immediately. These types of changes could indicate systemic problems or serious illness.
Anaemia and Dental Treatment
If you have been diagnosed with chronic anaemia, it might impact your dental treatment. Your dentist might recommend an antimicrobial rinse to help prevent gum disease or an antibiotic drug from reducing your risk of infection. If you undergo dental work or oral surgery, your dentist might need to adjust treatment to prevent excessive bleeding, such as altering the types of tools used. Patients with severe anaemia might even require oxygen during treatment to compensate for the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Overall treatment for your anaemia depends on the type of anaemia you have. Some types of anaemia result from genetics or chronic diseases and will require a team of medical professionals to assess your needs and relieve your symptoms. More likely, your anaemia is caused by a lack of vitamins or minerals:
- Iron-deficiency anaemia. The most common type of anaemia, iron-deficiency anaemia, occurs when your body has a shortage of iron, which the bone marrow needs to make haemoglobin for red blood cells. Treatment usually includes changing your diet or taking iron supplements.
- Vitamin-deficiency anaemia. This type of anaemia occurs when your body lacks the folate, vitamin C, or vitamin B-12 needed to produce healthy red blood cells. Some people consume enough B-12 but cannot absorb the vitamin, which is known as pernicious anaemia. Treatment usually involves increasing these nutrients in your diet or taking dietary supplements. If you have trouble absorbing vitamin B-12, you might require vitamin B-12 shots.
If you notice pale gums or other oral anaemia symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist or physician immediately. It could be a sign of an iron deficiency or vitamin deficiency, and you'll want to take steps to adjust your diet and protect your oral health as soon as possible.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.