Painful aching joints and a general feeling of being unwell are often the first signs of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Affecting nearly 1.5 million Americans between the ages of 30 and 70, three times as many women than men are diagnosed with the disorder.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, and like all other autoimmune related conditions, it causes the cells in the body to attack itself. In the case of RA, it causes the body to attack its joints. The synovial fluid that lines the bones of the joints is the first to become inflamed, and it deteriorates. As the disease progresses, especially if left untreated, it can deteriorate the cartilage and then the bone of the joints. Individuals with RA have severe stiffness, and mobility issues from the disorder and their joints may begin to look deformed as RA advances.
RA can Affect Organs and the Body
- Mouth—Dryness and gum irritation periodontal disease
- Eyes—Dryness, pain, redness, sensitivity to light and impaired vision
- Skin—Rheumatoid nodules – small lumps under the skin over bony areas
- Lungs—Inflammation and scarring that can lead to shortness of breath
- Blood Vessels—Inflammation of blood vessels that can lead to damage in the nerves, skin and other organs
- Blood—Anemia, a lower than normal number of red blood cells (1)
Along with taking prescription medications, heat and cold therapy is something you can do at home to manage your disease and discomfort. Self-massage is helpful, as well as exercising and stretching. Eating a nutritious diet, especially one that includes fish oils, vegetables, fruit, and lean protein can help your body fight off flare-ups and infections.
If you have any form of gum discomfort, bleeding, or bad breath, it’s important to consult with your dentist about getting your condition treated right away. Often, just getting a deep scaling, which is a cleaning that goes above and below the gum line, will correct mild to moderate periodontal (bone) disease. Loose teeth and infection in your gingival tissues, are easily treated by a periodontal specialist, as they can provide you with options to get your mouth healthy again. These include deep scaling’s, gingival grafts, laser treatment (LANAP), and pocket reduction procedures.
Staying on top of your dental health through regular dental cleanings, x-rays, and dental examinations are critical to avoid more expensive procedures and maintain a healthy smile, that’s free of decay, infection, and oral cancer. There are multiple treatment options; however, if you need to replace missing teeth, getting dental implants is the best solution for overall health.
Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, or another medical condition, it is essential to keep your dentist informed. Many individuals fail to tell their dentist about their current health issues and changes; but with all of the evidence pointing to strong oral-systemic health connections, it’s imperative to let them know about changes in your health and any new medications that you’re taking; so that they can best educate you on prevention of disease.
To schedule a dental appointment, please call Impeccable Smiles today at (813) 365-3552.
- “Rheumatoid Arthritis.” About Arthritis, Arthritis Foundation, arthritis.org, 2018