Dental hygiene in arthritis

by Dr. Deepashri Sathe

Mouth is a reflection of our body. There are many conditions or diseases which show their manifestations in oral cavity.

Though osteoarthritis is caused due to wear & tear or excess weight, Rheumatoid arthritis is of autoimmune origin. We don't know the exact causative factors. But may times it in observed that, onset of rheumatoid arthritis is triggered by bacterial infection due to septic focus in oral cavity. It may be due to a broken tooth, impacted molar, an infection occurring in tooth where root canal treatment is already done or previously extracted tooth. It is recommended to all the patients, who are suffering from arthritis, that they should get regular dental check up done & make sure that there is no septic focus.

If one has to undergo any dental procedure, one should inform the Dentist about the medication one is taking. If a person is taking steroids in long time, immunity is less. If a person is taking aspirin or any other pain killers, in a long duration, chances of excessive bleeding after dental extraction are high. All the dental work should be completed before a joint replacement surgery, so that a dental infection will not lead to infection in joint area.

It is observed that patients with arthritis suffer more from periodontal diseases. Periodontal diseases are diseases of the surrounding tissues of teeth that is gums, jaw bone etc. Swelling of gums & subsequently bleeding from gums, bad breath, mobility of teeth are the symptoms.

Arthritic changes in tempero-mandibular joints,that is a joint between upper & lower jaw, are also common. In such cases there is difficulty in opening jaw wide & it is painful while chewing hard food.

It is advised to use a battery operated tooth brush for arthritis patients if they are unable to use regular tooth brush. Regular check up & avoiding all sorts of infection is the key to control the disease.