Battle for Your Smile

Battle for Your Smile

Kidney Cancer’s Battle Against Your Smile

Due to the reduced filtration in your body, your mouth will likely have a decrease in saliva production, causing dry mouth. Your oral tissues may also look pale and you may complain of having a metallic taste in your mouth. The scent of your saliva can even carry an ammonia-like scent. The lack of healthy saliva flow can predispose you to both gum disease and tooth decay, so you’ll want to have regularly scheduled preventive care visits to clean your teeth and be screened for conditions such as cavities or bone loss. Your dentist will also likely advise you to use a supplemental fluoride to combat the effects of dry mouth on your teeth. Xylitol gum can be used throughout the day as well to repel new plaque buildup from congregating in the mouth as well as stimulate saliva production.

Gum Pallor

Pale gum tissue is likely due to anemia. Anemia can also cause your gum tissues to bleed easily, even if you do not have active gingivitis or gum disease. Your dentist or hygienist may be able to note other oral signs of anemia during your check-up, such as a cracked or fissured tongue surface. Follow your doctor’s instructions as it relates to iron supplements and dosages each day.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

Stomatitis is when oral tissues are red and have a burning sensation. This can create a painful experience and even make it difficult to eat a balanced diet. When burning mouth is present, some dentists recommend a “miracle mouthwash” to relieve symptoms. This is done by mixing one part milk of magnesia and one part liquid antihistamine together and rinsing or swabbing the inside of the mouth. Just take care to not accidentally swallow the mix.



Some medications taken by patients battling kidney cancer are linked with dental and jaw problems. Sunitinib has been shown in rare circumstances to result in osteonecrosis of the jaw. That is, the jawbone is damaged and begins to fade away. This can be a problem if you have dental procedures that need to be completed, such as an extraction. Your dentist will need to know that you’re taking this medication, and possibly get clearance from your doctor first. Let both your dentist and doctor know if you begin to experience any mobility in your teeth or numbness throughout your jaw. Because bone loss is so prevalent, your dentist may decide to take some more proactive steps to reverse areas of moderate bone loss before they become severe. This might involve locally placed medications tucked under the gum lines in the areas where infection or bone loss is evident.

It’s important to see your dentist regularly rather than when oral complications begin to develop when you’re living with kidney cancer. By taking proactive preventive care steps, your dentist can help you reduce the likelihood of losing your teeth from the disease. If this can’t be avoided, your dentist will review tooth replacement options with you so that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle, diet, and appearance.

Sharon BoydSharon Boyd

Sharon is a registered dental hygienist who describes dentistry as her passion. She started writing in 2011 and has since become a full-time dental writer, providing professional dental content to dental and medical professionals around the world.

Jul 2, 2014
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