Braces can straighten your teeth, correct a misaligned bite, and close gaps between your teeth. When you maintain a good oral hygiene routine and visit your orthodontist on a regular basis, your orthodontic treatment will be very uneventful. If, however, you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may need to see your dentist more frequently and take additional steps to keep your oral cavity healthy. Here are some ways rheumatoid arthritis can affect your orthodontic treatment and what you can do about them.
Poor Salivary Flow
Autoimmune disorders can cause a number of different symptoms including fatigue, weight changes, visual disturbances, and joint inflammation. They can also cause salivary gland dysfunction, which may complicate your orthodontic treatment. Salivary gland dysfunction can cause dry mouth when the salivary glands fail to produce enough saliva to help wash away infection-causing oral bacteria.
This may raise your risk for dental decay, gum infection, gingivitis, and even periodontal disease while you are wearing your braces. If you experience dry mouth, your orthodontist may recommend that you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If increasing your water intake fails to bring relief, an over-the-counter lubricating mouthwash may be recommended.
Rheumatoid arthritis can lead to bone changes in your mouth. It can lead to inflammation and deformity of the joints of your jawbone, leading to pain and the inability to open and close your mouth properly. If you have severe pain and inflammation of the jawbone as a result of rheumatoid arthritis, you may experience unusual discomfort after getting your braces tightened during your routine adjustment appointments.
To reduce this risk, take your anti-inflammatory medications an hour or so before your appointment and keep taking them as prescribed by your physician for a couple of days after your braces get tightened.
While getting the braces tightened is not particularly painful for most people, those with rheumatoid arthritis or other degenerative diseases of the joints and bones may want to consider comfort measures. These include eating only soft foods for a couple of days and applying ice packs over the outside of the mouth to relieve soreness.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, let your orthodontist know before he or she begins treatment. When the dental staff knows about your pre-existing conditions, they can better monitor your oral health for subtle changes in your gums, teeth, and jawbones. In addition, see your rheumatologist on a regular basis so that your condition can be monitored and managed.
For more information, reach out to a local orthodontist.