The Connection Between Arthritis and Oral Health

Arthritic Pain in HandsStudies have established a link between arthritis and some oral health problems. A study published in the journal Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases links rheumatoid arthritis with higher risks of gum disease. In fact, researchers suggest those with the arthritic condition are four times more likely to have periodontal disease. An earlier study, conducted in Germany and published in the Journal of Periodontology, estimates an even higher risk of periodontal disease in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis.

Gum Disease and Knee Pain

Caused by a bacterial infection that inflames the gums, gingivitis, an early form of gum disease, can develop into periodontitis, which may cause tooth and bone loss, if left unchecked. Studies have suggested a relationship between the presence of oral bacteria that leads to gum disease, and arthritis in some areas of the body. A third study, published in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, suggests the passage of bacteria from the mouth to the fluid surrounding the kneecap may contribute to knee pain in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Researchers concluded that the presence of oral bacteria transferred from the gums might worsen symptoms for those who experience arthritic knee pain.

Arthritis and TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is common among arthritic patients. TMJ disorder refers to the misalignment of the TMJs and has many causes. Symptoms include pain in the head, neck, jaw, and various parts of the face. Patients suffering from TMJ disorder may also experience pain in the shoulders, a tingling feeling in extremities, earaches, a clicking or popping sound when opening the jaw, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, and general headaches or migraines.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting over 30 million people in the United States, and may occur in one or more TMJs. Those who develop this problem typically experience a great deal of pain and discomfort in their jaw. Arthritis in other parts of the body may also contribute to TMJ disorder because those with joint pain may clench their jaws tightly, causing problems with the TMJs.

Schedule an Appointment

If you struggle with arthritis, or wish to know more about gum disease and TMJ disorder, please call our Wynnewood dentist office at (610) 228-4452 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Thomas DeFinnis. Our office is near Center City in Philadelphia and we serve patients in the 19096 area.

General Dentistry, Gum Disease, TMJ & Headaches