WHAT IS RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS AND ITS SYMPTOMS?
Drs. Angela Rasmussen and Amanda del Cueto of Gentle Dentistry in Tampa, Florida, describe rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, as an autoimmune disease that causes inflammatory arthritis. Patients with RA will experience attacks on their systems that cause problems with natural and healthy cells in the membranes of their joints. This can result in whole-body inflammation and joint pain, contributing to periodontal disease. Patients with RA are eight times more likely to develop periodontal disease and periodontitis than those without it. Approximately 32% of these RA patients had moderate gum disease, while 18% had severe periodontitis. In contrast, only 10-15% of adults without rheumatoid arthritis have moderate to severe gum disease.
WHAT IS THE LINK BETWEEN GUM DISEASE AND RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS?
An overactive immune system causes rheumatoid arthritis, and this, along with periodontal disease, is linked to inflammation. Inflammation is caused by the body’s protective immune system responses to bacteria and viruses. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis will experience a “mistaken” trigger to inflammation that can cause the joints to become stiff, painful, and swollen.
TREATMENT FOR ORAL HEALTH IN RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS PATIENTS:
- Better dental care can play a role in reducing and controlling inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis
- Studies show that those with severe RA who have successfully treated their periodontal disease experience improvements in their joint pain and other symptoms
- Gum disease ranges from mild to severe, and some rheumatoid arthritis patients may experience problems due to an autoimmune condition that impacts the glands to decrease saliva flow
- Gingivitis can be reversed with regular cleanings and proper home health care, while those with more severe periodontal disease will need more extensive treatments to control their condition
- It is not uncommon for patients with RA to find it hard to maintain oral health and wellness because of joint pain in the hands, so consider using electric toothbrushes or special flossers to take care of the smile between dental visits
- Gum disease has also been linked to medical conditions, including strokes, diabetes, and heart disease, so taking care of the smile may improve overall health and wellness, even when RA exists
TIPS FROM THE AMERICAN DENTAL ASSOCIATION TO ACHIEVE BETTER ORAL HEALTH AND WELLNESS:
- Try different flossing techniques with holders, picks, and threaders
- Put your toothpaste in a pump to make it easier to use it all than in a squeeze tube
- Pick a mouthwash that has added benefits, such as one with fluoride for added protection from tooth decay
- Avoid smoking, which is a huge risk factor in the development of periodontal disease
- Brush after every meal, if possible, to remove any acids or sugars that can contribute to tooth decay
- Use a different toothbrush that is easier for you to grip
TALK TO THE TEAM AT GENTLE DENTISTRY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS NEAR ME
If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and struggle with maintaining your oral health, it is time to work with a team of professionals with experience serving RA patients.
Contact Drs. Angela Rasmussen and Amanda del Cueto of Tampa, FL, at Gentle Dentistry by calling (813) 734-7102 to schedule your visit.