Dental benefits

5 ways to care for your smile when planning for a transplant

About 80 Americans receive a new heart, lung, liver, pancreas, kidney or intestine each day.1 There’s no doubt about it: Organ donation saves lives!

Yet medicine taken to prevent the new organ from being rejected also weakens the immune system. That’s why more than 80% of those receiving a transplant will develop at least one oral infection.2 If you or a loved one are getting an organ transplant, here are five ways to keep your mouth and body healthy before, during and after this life-changing procedure.

Let your dentist know if you are getting a transplant.

If you can, visit the dentist well before your procedure so there’s enough time to take care of any cavities or other oral health issues before your immunity is compromised. It’s important that your mouth is free of any infections or potential problems. After the transplant, avoid in-office dental treatment for at least three months to prevent complications from your transplant medicine, which is taken at the highest dosage at this time. Always reach out to your dentist if you are experiencing a dental emergency.

Be sure your dentist and physician coordinate your care.

Your medical and dental history are closely intertwined. Talk to both your dentist and physician about what’s happening with your mouth and body before, during and after a transplant. Keep them in the loop so they can work together on a plan that’s best for your oral and overall health.



Share medication information with your dentist.

Medications that help your body accept the transplanted organ also suppress your immune system, putting you in jeopardy of infection and other complications. Share your full list of medications so your dentist can be aware of drug interactions and work to manage side effects.



Look for side effects and keep your dentist in the loop.

Anti-rejection medication makes it more likely for you to develop dry mouth, sores in your mouth, gum disease, mouth infections, enlarged gums or oral cancer. Contact your dentist and physician if you develop white or red patches in your mouth, a lump or bleeding when you brush your teeth.



Check to see what your dental plan will cover.

Some dental plans offer enhanced benefits, such as additional cleanings, for those with specific health conditions. These conditions may include organ transplants, periodontal disease, diabetes, pregnancy, high-risk heart conditions, HIV and certain cancer therapies.

Getting a new organ will be transformational for your whole body. Medicine taken to prevent the new organ from being rejected will also weaken your immune system, so you’ll want to take every precaution possible. By following these tips and getting your full medical and dental team on board, you can minimize the side effects and keep smiling through it all.