How does thalassemia affect the teeth?

What is the impact of thalassemia on dental health?
What dental problems can thalassemia cause?
Patients who have thalassemia are susceptible to tooth decay. They typically have discolored, short, and misaligned teeth. These patients also have severe gum diseases, dry mouths, and even burning tongues. Since these patients are at a higher risk of tooth loss, they should see their dentists on a regular basis.

Thalassemia is a hereditary condition in which there is abnormal hemoglobin formation. The alpha and beta ‘chains’ make up the haemoglobin, which are faulty in thalassemia patients, resulting in faulty hemoglobin production. As a result of this genetic flaw, thalassemics have lower levels of good-quality haemoglobin. Even though the severity of thalassemia varies, most patients with the condition have significant dental abnormalities. Thus, this article discusses thalassemia-related dental defects, the importance of oral health, and how to manage it in such patients.

What effects does thalassemia have on the teeth?

Thalassemia causes osteoporosis or brittle bones. Such patients usually have discolored teeth, short crowns, and short roots, and are more susceptible to tooth decay. Thalassemics may have upper anterior tooth migration and increased spacing, as well as varying degrees of malocclusion. Thalassemia patients have severe gum problems, and they may also have a sore or burning tongue due to a lack of vitamin B. These patients may experience upper jaw enlargement, a condition known as “chipmunk face“. Furthermore, thalassemics have painful salivary gland swelling as well as a dry mouth.

Is there a negligence of dental health of thalassemia patients?

Yes, this does happen on occasion. This is because patients with thalassemia are preoccupied with the serious medical complications of the condition. Regrettably, dental health suffers in such cases. As a result, they seek emergency dental care for severe tooth pain caused by chronic abscesses and tooth infections. Thus, such patients are more likely to have their teeth extracted or removed rather than filled.

How are dental problems managed in a thalassemia patient?

The dental management of thalassemia patients requires a multidisciplinary approach. Ideally, the general dentist and the orthodontist should collaborate with the hematologist. In thalassemia patients, any invasive dental procedure should be performed under antibiotic cover and immediately after transfusion. Such patients should also have liver function and blood clotting tests before undergoing dental procedures. Less severe cases may be treated surgically as well as orthodontically, whereas less severe misalignments should only be treated orthodontically. The doctors may employ sedation or anesthesia during the dental treatment of the patients to improve control and cooperation. There must be careful monitoring of the patients due to complications related to their compromised immunity.

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Disclaimer
Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can further read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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