July 03, 2023 • 10 mins read

7 Oral Health Tips for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Learn how to maintain good oral health and reduce the risk of complications associated with this condition. Find out how to brush and floss properly, use mouthwash, and more.



Danielle Duncan

Rheumatoid Arthritis
What is rheumatoid arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis, a well known chronic autoimmune disease that affects millions of people worldwide. This chronic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis causes the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack its own tissues, leading to inflammation and damage. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other organs in the body, such as the lungs, heart, and eyes, making it difficult for individuals to carry out normal daily activities. 

While most people are familiar with the joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, few are aware of the impact it can have on oral health.

What causes rheumatoid arthritis?

There are several factors that are believed to contribute to the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Genetics are thought to play a role, as there is a higher incidence of the condition in families with a history of the disease. Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain viruses or bacteria, may also trigger the immune system to attack the body’s own tissues. Hormonal imbalances and lifestyle factors, such as smoking and obesity, have also been linked to an increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

Studies have shown that individuals with rheumatoid arthritis are at an increased risk of developing gum disease, tooth decay, and other oral health problems. This is due to the fact that rheumatoid arthritis can weaken the immune system, making it easier for bacteria to thrive in the mouth. Additionally, many of the medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis can cause dry mouth, which can lead to an increase in cavities and other dental problems.

It is important for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis to take extra care of their oral health. This includes brushing and flossing regularly, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and visiting the dentist regularly. In some cases, a dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings or other treatments to help manage oral health problems.

Oral health is an important aspect of overall well-being, especially for those with rheumatoid arthritis. This chronic autoimmune disorder affects the joints and can make everyday tasks, like brushing and flossing teeth, more difficult. To maintain good oral health, here are 7 tips for people with rheumatoid arthritis:

Use an electric toothbrush: 

An electric toothbrush can make brushing easier for those with limited mobility in their hands and wrists.

Choose a toothpaste with fluoride: 

Fluoride toothpaste can help prevent tooth decay and strengthen tooth enamel when used properly.

Floss daily: 

Flossing can be challenging for those with arthritis, but it’s important to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth.

Use a mouthwash: 

Mouthwash can help kill bacteria and freshen breath, but be sure to choose one without alcohol, which can dry out the mouth.

Visit the dentist regularly: 

Regular dental check-ups can identify and treat any oral health issues before they become more serious.

Consider using a water flosser: 

Water flossers are an alternative to traditional flossing and can be easier to use for those with arthritis.

Maintain a healthy diet: 

A balanced diet can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, as well as improve overall health.

By following these tips, people with rheumatoid arthritis can maintain good oral health and prevent dental problems. It’s important to remember that oral health is connected to overall health, so taking care of your teeth and gums can have positive effects on your entire body.

How dentists can help their rheumatoid arthritis patients afford the care they need

Unfortunately, dental insurance only goes so far in covering the care that rheumatoid arthritis patients may need. Patients who require more office visits, treatments for complications such as dry mouth are more likely to hit the limits of what dental insurance has to offer. Billing medical insurance for dental treatments can help bridge that gap and save dental benefits for other non-covered treatments that patients need. 

Medical billing for dentists can be a complex process, that’s where we come in. Our Imagn Billing team knows all of the ins and outs of billing medical insurance for necessary treatments for all patients, including rheumatoid arthritis patients. Not sure where to get started? Take our assessment to see how medical billing will look in your practice today!

Remember, rheumatoid arthritis can have a significant impact on oral health, making it important for individuals with this condition to take extra care of their teeth and gums and for dentists to implement medical billing so they can focus on what matters most, their patient’s care! 

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