Dental Health Status of Liver Transplant Candidates

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Abstract

A prerequisite dental evaluation is usually recommended for potential organ transplant candidates. This is based on the premise that untreated dental disease may pose a risk for infection and sepsis, although there is no evidence that this has occurred in organ transplant candidates or recipients. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of dental disease and oral health behaviors in a sample of liver transplant candidates (LTCs). Oral examinations were conducted on 300 LTCs for the presence of gingivitis, dental plaque, dental caries, periodontal disease, edentulism, and xerostomia. The prevalence of these conditions was compared with oral health data from national health surveys and examined for possible associations with most recent dental visit, smoking, and type of liver disease. Significant risk factors for plaque-related gingivitis included intervals of more than 1 yr since the last dental visit (P = 0.004), smoking (P = 0.03), and diuretic therapy (P = 0.005). Dental caries and periodontal disease were also significantly associated with intervals of more than 1 yr since the last dental visit (P = 0.004). LTCs with viral hepatitis or alcoholic cirrhosis had the highest smoking rate (78.8%). Higher rates of edentulism occurred among older LTCs who were less likely to have had a recent dental evaluation (mean 88 months). In conclusion, intervals of more than 1 yr since the last dental visit, smoking, and diuretic therapy appear to be the most significant determinants of dental disease and the need for a pretransplantation dental screening evaluation in LTCs. Edentulous patients should have periodic examinations for oral cancer. Liver Transpl 13:280–286, 2007. © 2007 AASLD.

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