The Link Between Poor Oral Health and Rheumatoid Arthritis

177406608Tooth loss, or poor oral health in general, can affect more than just your ability to flash your healthy set of pearly whites. New studies suggest that the development of gum disease may precede rheumatoid arthritis and its severity. One study has also found out that the more teeth lost (an indication of the severity of gum disease), the greater a person is at risk for rheumatoid arthritis.

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, which means that it’s a disease wherein the function of the body’s immune system is reversed. Instead of protecting the human body from foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses, what happens with autoimmune disease is that it mistakenly attacks the body instead, which in rheumatoid arthritis’ case, would be the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is most common in the joints of the hands, wrists, elbows, knees, ankles and feet. The effect is usually symmetrical as well, which means that if either one of the knees or hands are affected, chances are that the other one is too.

How Is Gum Disease and RA related?

Early on, medical experts assumed that gum disease might’ve resulted from the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, as stiff joints made it harder to brush, let alone floss. There are also others that assumed that it might’ve been the direct result of the medication for rheumatoid arthritis, as immunosuppressants affect the body’s ability to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses.

Further research, however, has disproven both assumptions.

In a study conducted by German researchers back in 2008, where 57 patients affected with RA and another 52 healthy ones were examined, the study found that those with RA were almost eight times more likely to develop gum disease. However, what was surprising was that oral hygiene alone was not enough to explain the reason behind the alarming increasing risk.

Another separate study published in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases is also another example of why medication for RA may not be that big of a factor. The said study found out that 91 of their patients with rheumatoid arthritis were twice more likely to develop periodontal disease compared to the other 93 that were healthy. And, that none of those with arthritis had taken medication, namely DMARDs or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

So, what gives?

Further Research is Necessary

Based on what is written and from the majority of the results of the studies of how oral health and rheumatoid arthritis are related, it would be safe to assume that treating periodontal disease would also benefit the treatment of RA.

One study, courtesy of the researchers at the Case Western University School of Dental Medicine and University found out that may be the case.

Their study, which involved 40 people, both with RA and periodontal disease, found out that those who had their gum disease treatment through nonsurgical means reported improvement in their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms as compared to those who only had received treatment for RA.

One small study, however, is not enough to prove or disprove whether or not treatment for gum disease may also benefit those undergoing treatment for their rheumatoid arthritis.

What is clear, though, is that there is a clear connection between periodontal disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you’re suffering from RA, it’ best to take proper care of your teeth. You can do this by brushing, flossing and rinsing your teeth regularly. Of course, you shouldn’t forget to visit your dentist for checkups and cleaning every six months as ell. You may also want to speak with your dentist or therapist about how to make dental care much more manageable, especially if you’re suffering from stiff hands or jaws.

By working closely with your primary physician and dentist, you’re increasing the chances of you being able to save both your teeth and your joints.

For more information regarding your oral health, contact Dr. David Lunt DDS at 818-885-7230 or visit www.davidluntdds.com to learn more about how oral health can effect your overall health.

Importance of Sports Guards

Man wearing mouthguardWhile you’re making sure that you and/or your kids are wearing all the right protective gear to participate in a particular sports activity, there’s usually one major piece of equipment that most people forget about – the sports mouth guard.

The sports mouth guard is overlooked for various reasons, like people thinking that they don’t look “cool” or “trendy”, or in many cases, most people just don’t know how important sports guards are when participating in any sports activity.

How Sports Guards Help Protect You

Among all injuries sustained in sports, dental injuries are some of the most common. This is probably due to the fact that while other protective materials such as goggles, helmets, shin guards and shoulder pads are require to be worn, mouth guards, most of the time, are not.

It’s important to remember that mouth guards play a pivotal role in protecting one’s teeth and jaws, especially in sports such as football, wrestling, soccer, and basketball, where the type of physical activity poses a high risk of injury both to the mouth and jaws.

Athletic mouth guards are often thin pieces of plastic that are flexible enough to protect one’s teeth and other oral structures.

Wear a Custom Mouth Guard

Stock and boil-and-bite mouth guards can be found in most sporting apparel stores. They vary in cost, most usually depending on comfort and durability. Most of the time, either one of these two types of mouth guard is more than enough. However, if you’re more than just a casual player, a custom made mouth guard may be just what you need.

Custom-made mouth guards or sports guards are fabricated by dentists or orthodontists and are considered one of the best ways for athletes to protect their teeth. The reason being is that aside from being durable, these mouth guards are made to fit perfectly in one’s mouth.

Taking Care of Your Sports Guard

Mouth guards should be well taken care of and cleaned properly. Also, they should be replaced when the time comes that they no longer are able to offer optimal dental protection.

Here are a couple of tips that should help you take better care of your mouth guard and keep it in good condition:

  • After each use, scrub it gently using your toothbrush and some toothpaste.
  • Make sure to store it in its protective case when not in use.
  • Keep the protective case and your sports guard out of the sun, or any extreme temperature.
  • Avoid chewing anything while wearing it.
  • Immediately replace the sports guard if it doesn’t fit properly.

Mouth guards should be replaced every few months, ideally after each season, because they tend to wear down and become less effective. Also, adolescents may have to replace theirs much more frequently because their mouth and teeth are still developing.

A good schedule to follow is to have new mouth guards made or bought after each six-month dental check-up.

If you or your children plays any type of organized sport, make sure that you provide them with optimal dental care by making them wear a sports guard.

If you’re ready to get a custom made sports guard to protect your teeth, contact Dr. David Lunt DDS at 818-885-7230 or visit our website at www.davidluntdds.com for more information regarding sports gaurds.

Are Invisalign Braces Worth The Extra Cost?

invisible bracesInvisalign has become a popular alternative to traditional braces, but one problem with it is the added premium cost. It’s a known fact that Invisalign, on average almost twice more than traditional braces. Though, Invisalign does offer a wide number of benefits that may be perfect, depending on a patient’s situation.

Be sure to read on below to know more about the advantages of Invisalign so you yourself can make an informed decision as to whether or not it’s worth the extra cost.

  • Fewer visits to the orthodontist. Without dental insurance coverage, the costs of visiting the orthodontist regularly can add up. With traditional braces, visits will be as often as every six weeks for retightening of the wires. With Invisalign, visits will be much fewer as patients are given several months worth of new aligners, with replacements included, on the first visit.
  • No need for repairs and maintenance. With Invisalign, you never have to worry about brackets or wires becoming loose, lost or broken. You simply just replace a damaged appliance with the next one in your set.
  • Easier teeth cleaning. With traditional braces, cleaning your teeth can become quite a chore. You have to make detailed adjustments to how you brush with your teeth now that you have braces so that food and plaque are removed, not only from your teeth and mouth, but also from the brackets. The same goes for flossing and if you neglect the prescribed oral care, you’re just putting yourself at risk for gum disease and tooth decay. Even worse is that after traditional braces, you’ll have to spend money to have your teeth professionally cleaned and even whitened to restore its original smile. With Invisalign, you’ll never encounter any one of these problems.

Save from fewer visits, not having to worry about repairs and making an adjustment to your cleaning method, Invisalign also allows you to enjoy food as you normally would since you just have to remove them while you eat and clean your teeth. Also, since you can remove the aligner any time, those involved in contact sports can enjoy the benefits of having traditional braces, without having to worry about brackets and wires going loose because of the physically of the sport.

What’s best about Invisalign, though, is that it’s practically invisible. This is good news for those who’ve avoided traditional braces because they feel that it will make them conscious about their smile.

Of course, Invisalign is not perfect. Wearing requires a lot of discipline, as you have to make sure that you wear them for almost 24-hours a day. You only have to remove them when you’re eating and brushing your teeth. Also, one should also be careful when removing and putting the Invisalign back, since even with a spare aligner or two, losing or breaking them frequently is going to make an already expensive treatment even more expensive than it already is.

If you’re interested in Invisalign as the treatment of choice for your teeth, be sure to head on over to your orthodontist to see if it’s a good fit for your particular dental problem.

For more information regarding Invisalign, contact David Lunt DDS at 818-885-7230 to schedule a consultation today or visit www.davidluntdds.com to learn more about the services Dr. Lunt offers.