Set of red toy teeth with one tooth missing with coins going into it

Dental Health and Hepatitis C

Back in early 2010 when I was diagnosed with end stage liver disease, I began noticing deeply bothering changes to my personal health. Not only was I fighting hepatitis C, but now all the side effects pertaining to it too. As most know, hepatitis C is not something one can tell a person is fighting on the outside, however, I noticed my dental health deteriorating badly and very quickly.

The connection between liver disease and tooth decay

One tooth broke after another. My gums hurt when I brushed and overall I had toothaches and sensitivity to temperatures. After having four crowns put on and extensive dental work on the teeth, I investigated liver disease and issues with teeth. Sure enough, liver disease can cause greater loss of teeth and a higher plague build-up. It can’t be said that the liver is the actual cause of the deterioration, but it does contribute to the neglect of teeth during liver disease (as often times, not as much attention is brought to our oral health while fighting a debilitating health issue).

Taking action

I can attest to this: I have always been overly attentive to my teeth and the care of them. Several times every day, I brush and floss my teeth. I admit, my cleaning appointments with my dentist have not been on a regular schedule, but I did have them done throughout the year. Still, my daily regime always took care of my teeth.

With the loss of my teeth and the gradual extensive work needed to be done, I found myself shying away from smiling too big. I was embarrassed at the amount of teeth waiting for implants, etc. My whole life, I have loved to smile and now I felt truly embarrassed each time I did that.

A common issue among the hep C community

After talking with numerous people fighting hepatitis C and end stage liver disease, I heard similar complaints about teeth and oral issues. Not only are we fighting a serious health issue, but also a potentially dangerous oral issue if we do not take care of damaged teeth right away. It can lead to a serious bacteria build-up in our mouths that can affect our overall health and our livers.

Being proactive about dental care and hepatitis C

It is so important to stay on top of your oral health. As much as we hate going to dentists, we must to protect our livers. If you notice issues with your teeth, get in as soon as you can. I know dental health is not on the top of everyone's list of things to pay for, especially given the costs of liver medications and other needed doctor's visits. For myself, dental costs are above and beyond I can afford right now. Fortunately, I managed to find a good inexpensive dental insurer to help me when my teeth begin to cause pain.

As I await another implant, I pray for my smile to return. It truly does change a person’s being, feeling insecure and self-conscious about our smile.  I had to wait several years now with missing teeth until I could afford to have them fixed. It certainly was not on the top of my list of priorities going through liver disease. Now that I am cured and have great health insurance, I look forward to fixing my missing holes in my mouth.

Don't feel alone fighting dental issues and hepatitis C. Ask around you'll likely find many others are in the same fight.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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