This is Just Ridiculous

Well, my running and office life have once again been sidelined by my health. For the fourth time since getting my wisdom teeth out in June, I’m sitting at home, swollen, bored, exhausted, and on antibiotics and pain meds (oh, and off my RA drugs to let the antibiotics do their job).

The first time was being swollen for about a month after getting the teeth removed. The second two times were when blood started collecting in my right jaw – a hematoma or blood tumor. That happened twice, people! Each time involved making an incision in my gumline/inner cheek under local anesthesia, draining the blood, undergoing antibiotics, and giving it time and rest to make sure it healed.

I’ve been totally fine and hematoma/jaw swelling free for five blissful weeks.

Then, this last weekend I had subtle, sporadic pain in my left ear. I was busy having a blast at a wedding, so I ignored it. Sunday night, I had some pain in my lower left jaw. I noted it, but went to bed.

Then, Monday morning I woke up to one half chipmunk cheek. Whhhhhhyyyyyyy?????

If only I were this cute.

Of course, the oral surgeon who I had been doing follow up care with was out of the office Monday, so I went to a new dentist who ruled out a tooth infection and put me on antibiotics.

I spoke to my marvelous rheumatology nurse at least four times, trying to determine if it could be related to Rheumatoid Arthritis. The short answer is, yes, it could, but it probably isn’t.

So Tuesday I went back to my oral surgeon. He ruled out a hematoma or an infection, but numbed me up, sliced in, drained the area, “smoothed” the bone, and added a “drain” in my gumline to prevent fluid from building in my jaw again. Fun stuff, let me tell you. Apparently, he believes my body was reacting to a stray bone fragment left over from getting my wisdom teeth removed. Great, so could this happen spontaneously for years??

Since Tuesday, I’ve been taking my antibiotics, managing the pain with Percocet and IBProfen, and WAITING for the swelling to go down so I can look and feel like myself again. I’m still waiting.

I’m going in to see my oral surgeon tomorrow to hopefully get the drain out and get more answers. In the meantime, cabin fever is setting in because I’m supposed to be relaxing. Though good for blog posts (as in, I actually find myself writing them), this is pretty bad for sanity. :/

I’d like to ask you RAers if anyone has experienced lower jaw swelling related to their RA? What was it like and how was it treated? 

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  1. #1 by Kate B. on December 12, 2013 - 12:52 am

    Yes. I just had a similar experience, but with a much less invasive procedure. Went in for crown fitting for chipped tooth. My dentist fitted me with a temporary (acrylic) crown for the 2-4 weeks until the permanent arrived. My jaw was a little sore from the anaesthesia shot, but seemed OK. Over the next 2 days, my gums around the crown became inflamed and red, and my jaw swelled and was very painful. My dentist made a new temporary, which calmed down the gum area, but my jaw is still painful six weeks later. According to my dentist, who also has autoimmune disease, people with R.D. (RA) sometimes reject/react to dental procedures in unusual ways. In addition, having your mouth open during procedures can irritate joints in you jaw that are already inflamed by the R.A.
    Thanks for your post – it helps to make my experience seem less of a mystery.

  2. #2 by Kate B. on December 12, 2013 - 12:59 am

    Sorry – forgot to mention I saw an oral surgeon who confirmed that the problem was due to Existing issues caused by R.A. being irritated by the dental work.

  3. #3 by My RAD Life on December 12, 2013 - 4:52 am

    Thanks for sharing this story. It makes me feel better that I’m not the only one. My oral surgeon never agreed that my complications were because of my RA, but I’m still suspicious…

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