Rheumatoid arthritis linked to gum diseases

If you are living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly are particularly important. Studies show a strong connection between Rheumatoid arthritis and gum diseases, an inflammatory ailment that can lead to tooth loss and other health complications.

A study published in the journal of periodontology showed that people with rheumatoid arthritis had eight times the odds of developing gum disease as compared with people without rheumatoid arthritis and both diseases have inflammation in common, which may explain the connection.

Inflammation is a defensive immune system response to foreign bodies like viruses and bacteria. But with auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system falsely triggers inflammation even though there are no viruses or bacteria to fight off. Thus, it is the inflammation of gums that play role in causing rheumatoid arthritis.

Treating one condition may improve the other:

People with a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis who successfully treated their gum disease, other arthritis symptoms also got better. It is better to get treated with drugs for both gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Brushing and flossing can be challenging for those with RA, and you should work with your doctors to find out what works best for you.

People with rheumatoid arthritis also develop Sjogren’s syndrome or sicca syndrome, an auto-immune disease of the glands, which causes dry mouth and increased tooth decay. If you have gingivitis, it can be reversed with twice-yearly dental cleanings and good at-home care.

Here are some tips to make dental care easier:

  • Switch your toothbrush: If holding a regular toothbrush is difficult or painful, then switch to a large grip battery-powered toothbrush.
  • Use squeeze pack: Use squeeze pack to get toothpaste out easily for the arthritis patients.
  • Experiment with new types of floss: Try floss holders, floss picks, or threads.
  • Don’t smoke: Smoking is a big risk factor in developing gum disease, and it can interfere with the success of some treatments.