Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Jaw and Teeth?

can rheumatoid arthritis affect your jaw and teeth

Can Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Your Jaw and Teeth?

If you have rheumatoid arthritis you should know that your condition is significantly associated with the health of the jaw, teeth, and gums. At Dr. Saba and Associates, we offer a variety of preventative dental services and treatment options to help our patients with rheumatoid arthritis maintain good oral health. Continue reading to learn more about how rheumatoid arthritis can affect your mouth. 

How Is Rheumatoid Arthritis Associated With Your Jaw, Teeth, and Gums?

According to the CDC, around one in four adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is an inflammatory condition that causes your immune system to mistakenly attack healthy cells and tissues. This autoimmune disease can attack your joints, causing pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness in your wrists, hands, and knees. 

The Link Between Gum Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis

The inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis is directly associated with your gum health by increasing your risk of gum disease, which is also an inflammatory condition. Recent research from Johns Hopkins has shown that 70% of patients with RA have gum disease. 30% of those RA patients with gum disease have a severe case. Severe gum disease has even been found in the early stages of RA. 

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
  • Receding gums (teeth appear longer)
  • Loose teeth

Over time, gum disease makes your gums gradually pull away from your teeth, resulting in periodontal pockets between the gums and teeth that collect food particles and bacteria. As gum disease grows worse, it reaches below the gums and infects your jaw, causing bone loss. Without the proper support from your jaw, your teeth will eventually start to fall out. Immediate intervention is necessary to keep gum disease from reaching its advanced stages. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Teeth

Gum disease in rheumatoid arthritis patients can affect more than just the gums and jaw, it also increases the risk of cavities, dental abscesses, and other complications from tooth decay. Sjögren’s syndrome has also been associated with rheumatoid arthritis, which is a condition that causes dry eyes and dry mouth. 

Dry mouth significantly increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease because when your mouth is too dry, your body can’t sufficiently get rid of the bacteria that attack your teeth. If you have been diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, you’ll need regular preventative dental care to keep your mouth healthy. 

Symptoms of tooth decay include:

  • Tooth stains
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Toothaches
  • Pain when biting or chewing

TMJ Disorders and Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can also cause inflammation in your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects your jawbone to your skull. As a result, TMJ disorders are common in people with RA. If you are experiencing jaw pain, speak with your doctor about treatment. They may recommend medications, therapy, or surgery to relieve your symptoms. 

Symptoms of a TMJ disorder include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw
  • Difficult or painful chewing
  • Pain in and around the ears
  • Difficulty closing or opening your mouth
  • Pain in one or both jaw joints
  • Facial pain

Dental Care for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients in Sun Lakes

Frequent teeth cleanings can help prevent the complications from rheumatoid arthritis that affect your jaw, teeth, and gums. Drs. Saba and Romanin help RA patients in Sun Lakes, Arizona fight gum disease and tooth decay with a wide range of preventative services. Call our office at 480-895-2111 today to schedule an appointment.  

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (8/1/2022). Photo by Claudia Love on Unsplash