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What oral health effects does congestive heart failure have?

Linda Rohyans
Cardiac Rehabilitation


Medical management of congestive heart failure may require taking several different prescribed medications (polypharmacy). The side effects you may experieince by taking your heart failure medications include having a dry mouth. A dry mouth may lead to a decreased ability to taste food and drink. With congestive heart failure, some organs in the body may not receive a sufficient amount of blood supply, such as the tongue. Research is ongoing regarding the relationship between a decreased blood flow to the tongue and having a lower taste sensitivity. A tip to keep in mind if you suffer from a dry mouth, is to use a soft to medium bristled tooth brush when brushing your teeth so you may avoid aggravating your tongue and gums. You may also notice an odor or bad breath from having a dry mouth. A mouthwash that contains alcohol should be used with caution, as the alcohol may contribute to the dryness of the tongue, gums, and tissue of the mouth. You may want to consider an alcohol-free mouthwash.
Picture of Mouth
Certain medications prescribed for congestive heart failure, particularly diuretics, can cause dry mouth. This could increase the risk of mouth infections, thrush, and other problems.

People with severe congestive heart failure need to be careful at the dentist's office. They should avoid lying down too far in the dental chair. This might cause difficulty breathing because the lungs could fill up with fluid. Be careful getting up too quickly because you could get light headed and fall. Sometimes people with congestive heart failure will need to have their dental care performed in a hospital setting.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.