Arthritis Sufferers – Keep Your Oral Health In Top Condition!

Posted on Oct 28, 2012 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you suffer rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you may want to have a periodontal examination to rule out any signs of gum disease.

What’s RA got to do with gum disease? And vice versa? According to researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine and University Hospitals of Cleveland, patients who have RA were able to reduce their arthritic pain, number of swollen joints and the degree of morning stiffness when their dental problems. were resolved

The team of researchers studied 40 patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease and a severe form of rheumatoid arthritis, both inflammatory diseases. The findings were reported in the Journal of Periodontology, showing that by eliminating the infection and inflammation in the gums, patients with a severe kind of active rheumatoid arthritis reported improvement on the signs and symptoms of that disease.

This is not the first time that gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis have been linked. For years, rheumatologists and other clinicians have suspected that gum disease may play a key part in causing disease. Historically, when RA patients had teeth pulled or were given antibiotics to treat rheumatoid arthritis, it actually treated their periodontitis. Thus, the link between the two was somewhat camouflaged.

RA patients should be aware of the link between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis, particularly since gum disease tends to be prevalent in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Both inflammatory diseases share similarities in how the disease progresses over time. In both diseases, the soft and hard tissues are destroyed from inflammation caused by toxins from bacterial infection.

To minimize your risk of gum disease, here are some home-care tips for RA sufferers:

• Water irrigators can remove food particles and plaque between teeth.
• Electric toothbrushes and floss holders can reduce the amount of effort required by the hands.
• Wrap toothbrush handles with a sponge hair roller to create a more comfortable, thicker grip.
• Replace knob-type faucets with levers, which are easier to turn on and off.
• Insufficient saliva in the mouth increases the risk of bacterial growth. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist. If you are taking medications that are drying, oral rinses are available to help maintain oral moisture. Minimize caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, all which are drying to oral tissues.

With a good oral care commitment, RA sufferers should be able to overcome the physical limitations to have a healthy smile as a constant reminder that YOU are in charge of your health!

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