April 07, 2023 • 10 mins read

Anemia and Oral Health

Anemia is a common condition that can have a significant impact on your oral health. Learn more about the connection between anemia and oral health, and how to manage it.



Danielle Duncan

Anemia and Oral Health

The most common blood disorder in the world, approximately 25% of the world’s population is deficient in iron, including 5 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. 

Anemia, a condition in which your red blood cell count is lower than normal, can also occur when your red blood cells don’t hold enough hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that gives your blood its recognizable red hue. It is hemoglobin that is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body. 

While most people have heard about anemia in their lifetime, many may not realize that anemia can result in serious issues throughout the body such as heart failure, but can also have a big impact on your oral health. 

Some of the oral health problems caused by or made worse by anemia are:

  • Increased risk of periodontitis (gum disease).
  • Pale tissue in the mouth due to a lack of red blood cells.
  • Inflammation of the tongue (glossitis), in which the tongue may appear to be swollen, pale, smooth, and can feel tender or sore. 

If you have anemia, no matter the type, it is important that your dental team knows about it before scheduling even routine procedures. 

While there are many different types of anemia that you may be diagnosed with, the most common type of anemia that impacts oral health is iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is just what it sounds like, it is a lack of iron that your body needs to make the hemoglobin that carries oxygen throughout the body. 

Iron deficiency anemia can have a few different causes such as poor absorption of iron in the diet, rapid blood loss due to trauma, the loss of small amounts of blood over time (such as during a menstrual cycle), or chronic bowel diseases/disorders. If left untreated, that is when you will start to see the effects on your oral health. 

When anemia affects oral health, it is incredibly important to maintain regular visits with a dentist to prevent issues before they occur or to treat them before they have the chance to get worse. During an appointment with a dentist, your dental provider may recommend the use of an antimicrobial rinse to prevent gum disease, and may also adjust treatment to help prevent excessive bleeding, even during standard visits, such as adjusting the tools that are used during the visit. 

In some cases, if a patient has severe anemia, oxygen may be required during treatment to help compensate for the lack of oxygen in the bloodstream. 

Regardless of the type of anemia, the single most important step in preventing damage to the oral cavity due to anemia is to treat the anemia with the guidance of a medical provider and to keep medical records updated with not only medical teams but dental teams as well. This open communication between patients and dentists allows dental professionals to adjust treatments to maintain optimal oral health. 

If you’re a part of a dental team, remember, if anemia causes a decline in oral health, scheduling an appointment shouldn’t be avoided due to the cost of treatment. A patient will often weigh their treatment with their wallet. Billing medical insurance for dental procedures to prevent irreversible damage by anemia can help to boost oral health while limiting out-of-pocket expenses.

You can take the next step in billing medical insurance for the treatment of your anemia patients by taking our free assessment today!

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