Rheumatoid arthritis and your teeth

A German study published in the Journal of Periodontology shows that there is a link between rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and your oral health. People with RA are eight times more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is the result of an overactive immune system. Oral inflammation and infection can travel through the body and promote inflammation in the joints, making RA worse. Good oral hygiene can lessen the severity of RA.

A separate study published in the Journal of Periodontology shows that severe RA symptoms improve when people get oral and gum infections treated, and consistently maintain good oral hygiene at home. This starts with regular, deep cleanings at your dentist’s office.

Good oral hygiene at home must include daily flossing to keep gums free from the plaque buildup, which promotes gum disease. If you have difficulty using regular floss, experiment with different flossing methods including floss holders, floss threaders, or floss picks.

As it advances, gum disease loosens your teeth. If it is left untreated, teeth can fall out. Other studies also link gum disease to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

If you need assistance with maintaining good oral hygiene, your dental hygienist and dentist will offer suggestions and show you how to brush and floss for maximum benefits.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

TMJ self help

I think I have TMJ and I want to try to treat it myself before going to a dentist. I don’t want to have to purchase a mouth guard or splint if I don’t need one. What can I do at home to treat it? – Tabitha

Tabitha – There are some things you can do at home that may alleviate your TMJ symptoms:

  • Avoid hard, chewy, or stick foods that put more pressure on the jaw muscles.
  • Alternately apply heat and ice packs on the outside of your face.
  • Avoid chewing gum.
  • Locate your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and gently massage it. Put your finger on the triangular structure in front of your ear, just below your temple. Slide your finger forward and press while you open and close your mouth. As you press, you will likely feel soreness in the TMJ area.
  • Find and do exercises for your jaw muscles. You can find suggestions on official TMJ association websites. Gently work through the exercises, and don’t overdo it.
  • Find ways to relax. TMJ often results from teeth grinding, which is often stress related.

After several weeks, if your pain, jaw popping, headaches, or earaches, do not decrease,  or if the symptoms increase, contact your dentist. You will likely need an oral appliance to relax your jaw muscles and prevent teeth grinding.

If you have dental insurance, contact your insurance provider to find out if any benefits are provided for a night guard. Otherwise, ask your dentist how a night guard can be made affordable for you.

This post is sponsored by Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.


Patchwork quilt tooth enamel – how can I get rid of it?

My tooth enamel looks like a patchwork quilt. So many different colors and shapes on one tooth. I try not to smile and show my teeth. This is really noticeable. When I meet people for the first time if they manage to see my teeth when I talk (I try to hide my teeth), I am very sensitive to their stares. What can I do or use to get rid of the patches? Thanks Maxine

Maxine – The patches on your teeth can be successfully and beautifully hidden, but you need the help of a cosmetic dentist.

There is no at-home treatment or product you can buy that will conceal the patches. A cosmetic dentist will examine your teeth to determine the cause of the discoloration. In some cases, teeth whitening may help, but in most cases, cosmetic bonding, porcelain veneers, or porcelain crowns are needed.

The treatment options recommended to you will depend on the condition of your teeth. If your teeth are healthy, cosmetic bonding can be mixed and manipulated to conceal the patches and leave your teeth a naturally white color and translucence. Bonding stains with time, and needs to be polished by your dentist, and periodically replaced.

A porcelain crown covers an entire tooth. When teeth are badly worn or have significant decay, porcelain crowns may be used. This requires permanently reducing the size of each tooth to accommodate a crown. Crowns generally last five to fifteen years.

Another option is porcelain veneers. They cover the front of your teeth only. Veneers have a lifelike appearance and can last 15 to 20 years or more. This is a more expensive option than dental bonding or porcelain crowns, but the results last longer.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX cosmetic dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.