How Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Oral Health

 By: Robert Melkonyan
Rheumatoid arthritis or RA can cause inflammation of joints and tissues and some organs of the body. When the immune system attacks the body tissues mistakenly, autoimmune diseases happen. The immune system has different organizations of antibodies and cells to fight harmful toxins in the body. However, people who suffer from autoimmune illnesses have antibodies in the blood that attack body tissues, which can cause inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis is also known as rheumatoid disease because it affects several body organs.

Patients may not experience symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis for a long time but the illness is progressive that can result to functional disability and destruction of joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA has different symptoms from mild to serious. Obvious symptoms can be seen in the joints of the wrists, hands, feet and knees. Effects on oral health are less known. The disease may affect different organs such as kidneys, lungs, and tissues around the heart.

Though RA has no cure, people with RA can take different kinds of anti-inflammatory medications to relieve inflammation and pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. Aspirin is known to be effective as an anti-inflammatory. Other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs include naproxophen and ibuprofen. To control inflammation, prednisone is recommended but it can cause several side effects including increased pressure of fluid around the brain. Other side effects are diabetes and infection. Physicians can inject cortisone and steroids for quick relief of the joints. Anti-rheumatic medications that can modify diseases are also available such as methotrexate, gold and hydroxychloroquine can, which can delay the progress of the illness. However, be aware that using these medications can have serious side effects.

Rheumatoid arthritis can also have effects on your oral health. Patients that suffer from the disease can have gum disease and serious tooth decay because the inflamed and swollen wrist joints and hands perform the oral hygiene, which can be painful and tedious. Patients can use electric toothbrushes that have more comfortable and larger handles for a better grasp. With electric toothbrushes, cleaning the teeth is easier and more effective. In addition, RA patients cannot floss and they are recommended to use interdental cleaning. Interdental cleaners can be purchased at different department stores and pharmacies.

Salivary glands are affected by RA, which causes dryness and inflammation. People with rheumatoid arthritis can experience dry mouth or xerostomia and dry eye or keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Natural treatments can treat this problem such as consuming plenty of water and chewing gums that free from sugar or sucking hard candies that are sugar-free to stimulate salivary glands. Tooth decay will occur if there are no cleansing and antibacterial saliva effects. It is necessary to use products that contain high fluoride. In addition, practice good oral hygiene and lessen the consumption of sugar.

If you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, it is necessary to take good care of oral health. Make sure to brush your teeth at least two times everyday and floss after every meal. Make sure to check your mouth for the obvious signs of dry mouth, teeth stains, decay and plaque. In addition, you need to watch for gum disease, bad breath and bleeding. Visiting your dentist at least three times, every year is essential. It is recommended to discuss your RA as well as your oral health issues with your dentist or medical doctor.
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