Oral health complications after a heart transplant: a review

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Background Heart transplants have become a successful treatment for some cardiovascular diseases. To prevent rejection of the transplanted heart, patients have to take immunosuppressive medication. Aims The aims of this study were to identify and review oral health complications after heart transplantation. Methods The electronic database PubMed was searched for relevant articles. The search yielded 332 papers, of which 24 matched the criteria for this review. Results Gingival hyperplasia was observed in 8.3-67% of the patients. Heart transplant patients who received professional periodontal treatment starting six months after transplantation showed significantly better scores on the Gingival Index (GI) and gingival hyperplasia. In comparison to a control group, heart transplant patients did not differ significantly in the DMF(T) index. The incidence of fungal infection in patients receiving a heart transplant varied between 10% and 25%. Heart transplant patients had a 4.3 times higher chance of developing oral cancer. Conclusion Patients who underwent a heart transplant and subsequently used immunosuppressive medicines appear to have a higher risk of gingival hyperplasia, periodontal conditions, the presence of Candida species and oral malignancies, in comparison to healthy individuals. The association between heart transplants and dental caries was unclear. It is recommended that heart transplant patients receive frequent oral examination and professional dental cleaning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-182
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


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