Posted on Aug 29, 2012 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

If you are an arthritis sufferer, you are twice as likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease. Findings published by the Journal of Periodontology stated patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) had an average tooth loss of 11.6 teeth compared to 6.7 teeth of other participants in the study. Periodontal disease is the country’s number one cause of tooth loss and has been linked to serious health problems. These include coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, and memory loss.

RA is the leading cause of disability and limits the daily activities of over 7 million Americans. We are sensitive to the physical limitations RA can cause and offer these tips to make oral hygiene at home easier.
• Use water irrigators to help remove food particles and plaque between teeth.
• Electric toothbrushes and floss holders can reduce the effort required by hands.
• Wrap toothbrush handles with a sponge hair roller for a 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 take medications that are drying, oral rinses can help. Minimize caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, all of which are drying to oral tissues.

With a good oral care commitment, RA sufferers should be able to maintain a healthy smile and prevent tooth loss. If you suffer with arthritis, overcoming the physical limitations to protect your smile will serve as a constant reminder that you have a ‘good grip’ on your health!

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