Anemia is a very common condition in which the blood does not have an adequate amount of healthy red blood cells. Over time, this can result in reduced oxygen flow to the body’s organs. Most people know that anemia can cause symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, lightheadedness, fast heartbeat, and skin pallor. However, many do not realize that anemia can also have a direct effect on a person’s oral health. If not properly managed, anemia can cause long-lasting damage to your teeth, gums, throat, and mouth.
Causes of Anemia
The cause of your anemia can impact how the condition affects your oral health. There are many medical conditions that can cause anemia, such as chronic infections or long-term illnesses like cancer. Anemia has also been linked with kidney disease and pregnancy. With pernicious anemia, the problem typically lies within the stomach or intestines, which can result in poor absorption of vitamin B12.
Anemia can also occur due to active bleeding. For example, when a large amount of blood is lost through a wound or heavy menstrual bleeding, a person can become anemic. Gastrointestinal cancers or ulcers can also slowly ooze blood causing someone to suffer from anemia.
One of the most common causes of anemia is iron deficiency. Bone marrow requires iron to produce red blood cells. When the amount of iron in the body is limited due to poor dietary intake or conditions that cause low iron, anemia can occur as a result. This condition is referred to as iron deficiency anemia.
How Different Types of Anemia Affect the Mouth
There are several different types of anemia, each affecting the mouth in different ways. Some types, like iron deficiency anemia, can cause abnormally pale tissue in the mouth caused by a reduced number of red blood cells. You may also experience inflammation of the tongue, known as glossitis. This condition can cause the tongue to appear smooth, swollen, pale, and tender. Iron deficiency anemia also puts you at risk for periodontitis, or gum disease.
Fortunately, this type of anemia can often be treated by taking in more iron. Green vegetables and red meats are high in iron. If you are not able to get enough iron from the foods you eat, talk to your doctor about taking an iron supplement.
Sickle cell anemia is another type of anemia that occurs when red blood cells are shaped differently, making them more difficult to pass through blood vessels. If you have sickle cell anemia, you may experience oral health problems like yellowish tissue, delayed tooth eruption, or dentin and enamel mineralization problems. With sickle cell anemia, the tongue may appear smooth and can also feel sore. This condition can also increase the risk of periodontitis in younger people.
Vitamins and Anemia
Vitamin deficiency anemia can also negatively impact your oral health. This condition occurs when there is an insufficient supply of healthy red blood cells due to a low amount of vitamin C, vitamin B12, or folate in the body. With vitamin deficiency anemia, you may experience a painful tongue, mouth ulcer, and reduced papilla which can impact the taste and texture of foods. Periodontal disease can also develop in patients with vitamin deficiency anemia.
Choosing the Right Dentist
If you have recently been diagnosed with anemia, it is important to understand how it affects your oral health. If possible, contact your dentist about your diagnosis or report this change in your health at your next dental teeth cleaning. Some types of anemia can increase your risk of infection. Therefore, it is important for your dentist to know that you have anemia, so that she or he can take extra precautions to keep you safe.
At Artistic Touch Dentistry in Melbourne, Florida, we offer a comprehensive approach to dental care with a direct focus on preventative and restorative dentistry. We have helped many patients with anemia maintain their oral health and we offer services to patients of all ages. For more information about how anemia affects oral health or to schedule an appointment with our dentist, contact Artistic Touch Dentistry today.