by Lisa Stillman, RDH, BS

There’s So Much I Didn’t Know

Recently, I had an interesting opportunity to exhibit the Xlear and Spry products at the Maryland Kidney Foundation for Renal Dietitians Meeting in Columbia, Maryland. I was very surprised to learn how much I did not know about the implications of renal failure on the body and on the mouth itself.

When researching the relationship of Kidney Disease and Oral Health I found Cheryl Thomas, RDH, who is a dental hygienist in south Texas. She’s lived with kidney disease for twenty years due to a rare autoimmune disease and is a kidney transplant recipient. She shared with me a treasure trove of knowledge on how suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) can affect oral health.

Cheryl Thomas, along with Mandy Trolinger, MS, RD, wrote an excellent article in Dentistry IQ, which details the implications of renal failure on the body and oral health. We, as dental hygienists, form an important partnership with Renal Dietitians to help these people be healthy.

The Things I Learned

  • 1 in 9 Americans (20 million) have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
  • 470,000 Americans live with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD)
  • Diabetes and Hypertension are the #1 and #2 reason for CKD
  • Intake of fluids is limited for those with ESRD and therefore they suffer from severe dry mouth.

The most popular product recommended by Renal Dietitians to these patients for their dry mouth has been Quench, a product which uses sugar, corn syrup, and aspartame.

There Is a Better Way

CKD and ESRD patients are limited to the amount of fluids they can ingest because of the lack of kidney function and inability to urinate, resulting in severe dry mouth. Instead of Quench, which will destroy their teeth, you can open up their eyes to something better by recommending Spry xylitol products.

Spry Products Benefit CKD and ESRD Patients

Spry products sweetened with xylitol have a cooling effect that draws moisture to the mouth and alleviates the dry parched tissues. We recommend using:

  • Spry Gum (Fruit flavors or Green Tea)
  • Spry Gems (Lemon Crème or Berry)
  • Sparx Candies
  • Spry Dry Mouth Spray
  • Spry Dry Mouth Gel
Because 52% ESRD patients are also often diabetic, you can recommend XyloSweet or Lite&Sweet. Both are low glycemic options and a great substitute for sugar. Patients with ESRD that are on dialysis should avoid oral dentifrices/products containing bioavailable phosphorus. Luckily, Spry products are phosphorus free.

As I talked with Cher Thomas, she explained that she still suffers from dry mouth but finds relief with Spry Gum, her favorite Spry product. The chewing action helps produce more saliva and that has become her first line of defense for comfort.

For those that want to learn more, please reach out to Cheryl Thomas or me. Xlear Inc. is always happy to assist those interested in helping others.

Also, please read Cheryl’s article, “Oral Health and Chronic Kidney Disease: Building a Bridge Between the Dental and Renal Communities” on Dentistry IQ.
Cheryl (Cher) Thomas, RDH

Cher Thomas, R.D.H. became a renal transplant recipient in 1999, and has lived with kidney disease for the past two decades. For over thirty years she has practiced as both a registered dental hygienist and dental assistant in general dentistry, pediatric dentistry, and public health settings. Cher is a national speaker who educates and inspires patients and their medical and dental healthcare providers regarding the special needs of renal patients. By using both her personal and professional experience, Cher teaches audiences techniques that lead to improving patient/provider communication as well as improved quality of life. In addition, Cher instructs patients and dental/medical health care providers the special needs concerning the dental management of patients living with renal disease. She has been published in The National Kidney Foundation’s — The Transplant Chronicles and various dental/dental hygiene publications and in July 2005, she received the RDH Sunstar Butler Award of Distinction in Dental Hygiene. She can be contacted at 409-392-0594 or

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