2 Important Things To Know About Rheumatoid Arthritis And Your Teeth And Gums
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful condition to have, but it does not only affect the joints in your body. RA can also have devastating effects to your teeth and gums, which is why you will need to provide the essential care your mouth needs if you suffer from RA. Here are two important things to know about RA and the health of your teeth and gums.
How RA Affects Your Mouth
RA is a disease that leads to pain in the joints, stiffness, and loss of mobility, and this happens because of the way RA affects your immune system. When you have RA, your immune system actually begins attacking your own joints, and this can also affect your teeth.
The first way it attacks is through inflammation. When the disease attacks your joints, it leads to inflammation in your body, and this inflammation can spread to your gums. When your gums get inflamed, it makes them prone to gum disease. Gum disease can weaken the teeth and their ability to fight off cavities, and this can lead to a loss of teeth.
RA can also affect the health of your teeth because of it leaves your body more susceptible to infections. A weakened immune system leads to more infections. If your body is more susceptible to infections, you could have a higher risk of developing an infection in your mouth.
The third way RA affects your mouth relates to the loss of mobility it causes. Because RA can attack your hands, you may have a hard time brushing your teeth properly. Unfortunately, your teeth will need extra care if you suffer from this disease. If you cannot provide the right care, it can worsen the systems RA causes to your gums and teeth.
What this means is that you will be at a higher risk for developing cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease.
Ways You Can Care For Your Teeth
If brushing your teeth is hard for you to do, you may want to talk to your dentist about your options. Your dentist might suggest purchasing a special type of toothbrush designed for people with arthritis. For example, choosing a toothbrush that has a wide handle might be easier for you to grip compared to a traditional type of toothbrush.
Some people with arthritis will attach a bicycle handle to their toothbrush to make this task easier. Another option is to try an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes generally have wider handles, and they make brushing easier because they require less movement of your hands. Finding a way that allows you to brush your teeth thoroughly is one of the most important things you can do to protect your teeth.
A second thing you should do is start using mouthwash that contains fluoride. Fluoride is helpful for protecting your teeth against cavities, and using mouthwash each day could make a difference. If you select a mouthwash that also fights bacteria (and most do), it could reduce your chances of developing gum disease. This type of mouthwash can help you control the amount of bacteria in your mouth, and it is essential for anyone suffering from RA.
Finally, you may want to purchase a water flosser to use daily. This is a device that sprays water into your mouth, and it too can be helpful for eliminating bacteria in your mouth. You can even fill the reservoir with mouthwash if you want to boost the effects it offers.
Living with RA can be painful and overwhelming, and it will require taking extra steps to protect the health of your mouth. If you would like to learn more about good oral care habits, contact a dentist (like those at Claremont Dental Institute) and schedule an appointment today.