How To Prevent Gum Disease If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you have a debilitating disease like rheumatoid arthritis, then you should know that you are also at risk of forming periodontal disease. In fact, you are eight times more likely to find yourself with gum disease if you also have rheumatoid arthritis. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss and serious dental infections. Since your immune system is already compromised when you have rheumatoid arthritis, an infection in the mouth can be serious. Specifically, an infection in the mouth can lead to something like endocarditis, which is a heart infection. You should work to prevent tooth loss, endocarditis, and other issues associated with gum disease and missing teeth. Keep reading to understand why rheumatoid arthritis can lead to gum disease and also learn what you can do about it.

Poor Oral Care

Gum disease is often caused by poor oral hygiene and generally bad care of the teeth and gums. Bacteria can thrive when you do not brush and floss as well as you should. Bacteria feed off dental plaque, which forms as you eat. The microorganisms eat the sugars that are contained in the plaque as well as the carbohydrates that you eat. More bacteria in the mouth mean that more of your gum tissues are likely to become infected. Also, the soft tissues of the mouth can become swollen and infected as bacteria release acidic byproducts into the mouth. While saliva helps to create a protective barrier over the gums that helps to keep acid and bacteria from causing damage, rheumatoid arthritis is often linked to Sjögren's syndrome. This condition causes the mouth to dry out. This leaves the gum tissues even more susceptible to gum disease.

You may have poor oral hygiene if you have rheumatoid arthritis simply because you do not have the dexterity or strength in your hands to move a toothbrush around your mouth. If this is the case, then consider purchasing an electric toothbrush that will do the work for you. Electronic toothbrushes do vibrate, so add padding to the end of the brush if the vibrations seem to hurt your arthritic hands. Polyethylene pipe insulation can easily be cut and slipped over the end of the brush to help with this issue. Also, make sure to pick out a traditional electronic toothbrush instead of a sonic variety. A traditional electric brush will create between 2,500 and 7,000 strokes in a single minute. However, a sonic toothbrush will produce between 30,000 and 40,000 a minute. The extra movement or strokes of the sonic toothbrush may create too much vibration for your hands. The added vibration may cause soreness and it might also lead to your dropping the toothbrush. 

Increased Bodily Inflammation

Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joints. However, you should know that the condition can also cause other tissues in the body to inflame. This includes the gum tissues. This means that you may start to see your gums bleeding and becoming swollen even if you do invest in good oral care practices. The best way to reduce this issue is to make sure that you do your best to stop bodily inflammation well before it starts. Taking medications can help to reduce flare ups and general inflammation. You should know that certain foods are linked to inflammation if you have a rheumatoid arthritis condition. Watch your diet carefully to limit these foods if you want to prevent periodontal disease.

Dairy foods, sugars, refined grains, and fats can all cause inflammation. Avoid cheese and ice cream and choose to drink dairy free milk. Choose whole grains instead of refined ones, and also avoid fried items and other foods that contain saturated and hydrogenated fats. Look for foods that contain healthy Omega fats instead. Also, make sure to fill your diet with lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. 

Talk with a dentist from a clinic like Schererville Family Dentistry if you have further oral hygiene questions.