It seems that evidence mounts daily identifying a link between your oral health and the health of the rest of your body. In this blog article we will explore the specific connection between your gum health and Arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease affecting about 1.5 million \ Americans that causes chronic inflammation of the joints and other areas of the body. The result is often debilitating pain, reduced flexibility and, in some cases, erosion of the surrounding bone.
Periodontal disease refers to advanced bacterial infection of the gums. It generally follows gingivitis that is left untreated for an extended period of time. If allowed to continue without professional treatment, severe gum disease can lead to dramatic recession of the gums, tooth loss and damage to the bones of the jaw.
The Inflammation Connection
The exact nature of the link between these two diseases is still being researched. Scientists originally pointed to bacteria as the leading factor; however, more recent research shows that inflammation is might likely responsible for the association. What is clear at this point, is that the connection does exist and treatment for periodontal disease is strongly recommended for patients with RA.
Preventing Periodontal Disease and Its Affects on RA
Due to the connection between diseases, proper oral hygiene has become a key component in treatment plans for arthritis sufferers. It is believed that reducing inflammation in the gums can help decrease their joint pain and fatigue related to RA. Unfortunately, oral health habits can be exceedingly difficult for arthritic joints in their hands. The American Dental Association has offered these recommendations for their hygiene routines:
- Try an electric toothbrush. A quality electric brush with a large handle allows for a better grip and can clean teeth and gums effectively, without as much hand motion.
- Consider floss holders. If traditional flossing methods are difficult, RA patients are encouraged to try angled floss holders. These plastic devices are affordable and easy-to-find.
- Protect yourself with mouthwash. An RA patient generally needs extra oral protection than a healthy patient. A fluoridated mouthwash, used 2-3 times per day, can help keep bacteria at bay.
- Avoid smoking. Besides putting themselves at risk of host of other medical conditions, smokers are much more likely to develop gum disease.
If you are patient suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis, please don’t hesitate to call us with any questions or for advice regarding your oral health routines.