How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Oral Health.

 

Arthritis is a complicated disease that affects the joints of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis has an autoimmune origin, involving self production of auto- bodies in the body which circulates in the blood and can attack the joints which are deemed foreign by the immune defense system.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients have more serious tooth decay and gum disease because swollen, inflamed hand and wrist joints make oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) tedious and painful. RA sufferers may find that they can clean their teeth more effectively with the vibrating brush head of the electric toothbrush than the manual brush. Flossing is virtually impossible for many RA patients and they are recommended to use interdental cleaning. Interdental cleaning can be purchased at different department stores and pharmacies.

Salivary glands are affected by RA, which causes dryness and inflammation. People with rheumatoid arthritis can experience dry mouth or xerostomia or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Natural treatments can treat this problem such as consuming plenty of water and chewing gums that are free from sugar or sucking hard candies that are sugar free to stimulate salivary glands. Tooth decay will occur if there are no cleansing and antibacterial saliva effects. It is necessary to use products that contain high fluoride. In addition, it is important to practice good oral hygiene and lessen the consumption of sugar.

The temporomandibular joint is the most complicated joint in the human body. Most joints only bend as a hinge, some allow rotation, but the TMJ rotates for the first five degrees or about one inch of opening and then it slides to the full open position. The TMJ allows the jaw to swing from side to side from chewing. This joint is susceptible to RA. As with other joints, RA will cause swelling and pain. Most patients find relief with the usual treatments such as anti- inflammatory medications, exercise and heat. RA sometimes damages the TMJ. Then, it is necessary to replace all or part of the joint with an analog made of titanium and a kind of plastic.

If you have previously undergone surgery to replace the joints, it’s important to inform your dentist. This is because prosthetic joints can be prone to infection especially if it’s newly placed. It’s sensible to seek proper dental care prior to surgeries to ensure the oral health is at its best.

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