Rheumatoid arthritis and oral health

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease which affects many organs and tissues, and in fact affects the whole body of an individual. Primarily, the synovial joint is mostly affected by the disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disorder and causes an inflammatory response in the affected organs and joints.

It has been observed that of the many types of fallout which patients of Rheumatoid arthritis go through, one type of fallout is the vulnerability of such patients to suffer from diseases of the teeth and gums. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis are not usually able to maintain good oral health, and hence they suffer from periodontal disease or other similar diseases of the teeth and gums. The reason is that such patients have weakened manual dexterity. Comparatively, people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis suffer from periodontal disease more easily than normal people.

Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects different joints, if the temporomandibular joint is affected by the condition, then the individual will have problems in chewing, eating, swallowing and speaking. If the synovial joint is affected, then the individual will face problems in brushing and flossing the teeth. Hence, whatever the symptoms and which ever part of the body is affected by rheumatoid arthritis, the dental hygiene is compromised.

Sometimes, rheumatoid arthritis unites with sjogrens syndrome. With this disease, the glands which produce saliva and tears are affected and do not function properly. This condition also causes dryness of the mouth. Moreover, the medications which are prescribed by physicians for the treatment of these diseases can also cause dryness of the mouth. Dry mouth causes tooth decay and supports the bacteria in the oral cavity which leads to infections. Plaque starts to accumulate which can then damage the teeth and gums.

The medications used by rheumatoid arthritis patients can also increase bleeding, hence making dental treatments for such patients even more challenging. Medications like Etanercept, Hydroxychloroquine, Steroids, Methotrexate, etc have side-effects which can be damaging for the teeth and gums in the long run. Some medications for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis also cause nausea and vomiting. If this happens frequently, then it could be bad for the oral health because the acids in the stomach have the potential to damage the enamel of the teeth.

Patients of rheumatoid arthritis cannot go through long dental treatments. The dentist would be required to perform short treatments over many visits. Some patients of rheumatoid arthritis may even require steroid therapy before dental treatment to reduce stress during treatment.

Individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis need to pay special attention to their oral health. They need to brush and floss their teeth regularly and properly. Moreover, they need to check for signs of mouth dryness, bad breath, bleeding of gums, etc and upon observing such signs, they should see a dentist immediately. Occasional visits to the dentist for regular oral check-ups are crucial for patients with rheumatoid arthritis.