Liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, or fibrotic liver disease can cause loss of appetite, weight loss, fluid accumulation in the abdomen, and pain in your abdomen. Your dentist may suspect that you have liver disease based upon your oral examination. Here are some signs and symptoms of liver disease that may manifest inside your mouth.
Liver disease can affect your clotting time by decreasing blood platelet aggregation. Not only can liver disease cause bleeding gums when brushing or flossing, but it can also raise your risk for oral hemorrhaging during dental procedures such as professional cleanings and extractions. When your dentist uses instruments to probe your gums during your examination, he or she may suspect liver disease if you start bleeding profusely or if the bleeding is difficult to stop.
Your dentist may refer you back to your primary care physician for further evaluation and treatment. Your physician will order a complete blood count and a liver enzyme profile to evaluate your liver function and blood clotting ability.
Once your liver disease has been identified and treated effectively, oral bleeding will probably stop. It is important to note that while oral hemorrhage typically occurs during brushing, flossing, or during dental procedures, it can happen spontaneously. This means that your mouth may begin to bleed for no reason and without provocation.
Yellow Mucous Membranes
Another telltale sign of liver disease your dentist may recognize is jaundice, or yellowing, of the mucous membranes inside your mouth. Liver disease can cause an overproduction of bilirubin, which is a highly pigmented substance that is secreted by your liver.
It is responsible for jaundice of the skin and whites of the eyes in those with liver disease, however, your gums, insides of your cheeks, tongue, and the floor of your mouth can also become jaundiced.
In addition to jaundice, the inside of your mouth may feel itchy or sore because bilirubin is very irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. After your liver condition has been treated and your serum bilirubin levels return to normal, oral jaundice and mouth irritation will subside. In the meantime, drink plenty of water to help decrease the concentration of bilirubin and to soothe irritated oral tissues.
If you have liver disease, work with both your physician and dentist. When you work with both of these healthcare professionals, you are less likely to develop oral complications of liver disorders such as oral hemorrhaging and anemia from excessive blood loss. Call today for an appointment.