The mouth plays an important role in the functioning of the human body; teeth chew food into smaller pieces to make it more digestible and saliva contains enzymes which further break down food. Saliva also helps prevent infections and is required for swallowing.
Teeth are held in place in the jaw bone by support from the surrounding gums and ligaments (fibrous tissue), making gum health very important too. From an appearance point of view, having a nice smile can boost a person’s confidence.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can experience problems with their mouths. Some are directly related to RA such as gum disease, jaw problems and dry mouth (i.e. lack of saliva) and some are indirectly related to RA; being a result of RA medication or caused by difficulty with cleaning the mouth (due to problems with other joints). This will not be a problem for all people with RA, but it may be helpful to be aware of these potential problems, so that you know what to look out for and what you might want to discuss with your dentist.
Dentists, dental therapists and dental hygienists can help with assessing and treating mouth problems as well as giving advice on how to keep your mouth healthy.
This section will cover the following topics which you can go directly to by clicking on the heading:
Information for dental care professionals (Links through to article published in BDJ)
References available on request