Brushing and Flossing with Rheumatoid Arthritis


As people with arthritis already know, arthritis can make things we previously took for granted much, much harder. As simple tasks become increasingly difficult there may be a temptation to stop doing some of the things that help a person lead a fulfilling life – like brushing teeth.

However, there is a huge list of reasons why brushing your teeth regularly is beneficial. Especially for people suffering from arthritis, it is essential to maintain healthy teeth and gums. There is scientific research that shows a connection between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis pain.

Researchers found a significant relationship between our mouths and our joints. One study found that the fewer teeth a person has, the greater their risk for joint inflammation. Patients who have fewer than 20 teeth have eight times the chance of swollen joints as someone with all their teeth. Bacteria in the mouth may also trigger an immune response in the body that may lead to conditions such as arthritis, causing joint pain.

Periodontal gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis have this in common: inflammation. Inflammation in the body can lead to inflammation in the mouth. So, therefore, chronic inflammation from gum disease can impact overall health, leading to higher blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

It is never too late to get started. Brushing and flossing daily as well as regular professional dental hygiene cleanings can go a long way in helping to slow down disease and prevention. Poor dental health increases the bad bacteria in the mouth. This can lead to bacterial infection in the bloodstream, impacting the heart. Maintaining your oral health will help maintain overall health, and this needs to be done even with arthritis pain.

Brushing Teeth with Arthritis

Use these tips to ease the process of brushing and flossing with arthritis:

  • An electric toothbrush helps in a number of ways. It does the brushing work for you, and these toothbrushes tend to have a larger handle that is easier to grip than a traditional toothbrush.
  • A variety of materials can also be used to wrap the grip of a toothbrush to make it larger and slip-resistant. If gripping something tightly is an issue, there are toothbrush accessories available that are made just for this purpose.
  • Sitting while brushing teeth lets you rest an elbow on the counter for support. And remember it’s still important to brush your gums even if you have dentures.
  • Flossing presents different problems for those with joint pain or dexterity issues. Pinching a thread of floss and reaching into the back of the mouth is hard enough. Hand-held flosser tools work well for flossing with arthritis. Hand-held flossers range in size from the smaller “interdental” flossers to those with longer handles and disposable flossing ends.
  • Another way to replace the string altogether is an electric flosser or water pick that uses water or mouthwash to blast plaque away.

Talk to your dentist to find what best suits your needs.

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