Toothbrushes, teeth and hepatitis

The connection between World Oral Health Day and hepatitis might seem like a stretch…however there are many things that connect oral health and hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Firstly, consider that hepatitis B and hepatitis C can both be transmitted through sharing toothbrushes. It is suggested that people living with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C keep their toothbrushes (along with other personal grooming items) out of the reach of others, especially children who commonly will imitate grownups and use their toothbrushes. Remember sharing
personal grooming items, including toothbrushes, is a low risk for transmission – but one to still be aware of!

Additionally, oral health care for people living with hepatitis is important. Dry mouth can occur as a result of living with hepatitis C, or can be present from drug or methadone use. Dry mouth can lead to oral thrush, damage to teeth, altered taste and difficulties with dentures. Consider using chewing gum to produce more saliva, drinking plenty of water, and avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes as they can be extra drying and cause more irritation.

Some of the medications that are used in dental care may also impact on liver health, if you are living with advanced liver disease or cirrhosis. Your dentist may ask you if you are living with hepatitis or have a liver health condition – or it might be on paper work that you fill in. This is so they know which medications they can use and which might affect your liver. There are some medications that can impact your liver such as aspirin, some benzodiazepines and opiates may also cause damage to your liver. It is a very different reason than what many people experienced years ago when there was much more discrimination in health care. Always chat with your dentist if you are concerned.

Lastly having dental work overseas is becoming very popular due to the significant price difference to Australia. There are some things to consider as not all countries have the same infection control standards or use the same personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves and goggles that we take for granted. Always do your research before undergoing any medical procedure overseas and look for their policies around infection control and hygiene.

If you have any questions contact the Hepatitis Queensland InfoLine on 1800 HEP ABC (1800 437 222).