Archive for category dentist

Rheumatoid Arthritis and All the RAD Diseases Correlated With It

I was recently diagnosed with the beginning stages of gum disease. At 30.

Though totally treatable, it means going to the dentist WAY more often than I’d like (every 3-4 months), more expenses, and another item to add to the list of things I need to spend extra time caring for.

Maybe it’s because of my wisdom teeth removal complications, which led to a few months of less-than-stellar teeth care. Or maybe it’s because I have RA and my body is prone to inflammation.

Gum (periodontal) disease, as it turns out, is one of the many things more common in people with RA. Others include fun stuff like heart disease, depression and poor concentration (which I have definitely been noticing recently, but hadn’t bothered blaming on my RA).

One study found those with RA are more than twice as likely to have gum disease (65% or the studies 91 participants who had RA also had gum disease versus 28% of those RA-free). And, of those who had it, it tended to be more severe.

There’s also some that believe gum disease is not only correlated with RA, but can LEAD to it.

So what, aside from a propensity for inflammation, is causing this link? Well, some scientists have found that porphyromonas gingivalis (PG), the bacteria involved in gum disease, also produces a specific type of enzyme and it’s this enzyme that promotes the progression of collagen-induced arthritis. The enzyme triggers changes in the body’s proteins, which then causes the body to mistakenly attack those proteins. The result is chronic inflammation.

PG works in much the same way as the anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA) found in some patients with RA. In fact, those with RA who have ACPAs have higher rates of gum disease. It all gets pretty complex, and the studies are relatively new, but you can read more here.

Apparently relating the teeth and gums to other ailments is by no means a new thought. Hippocrates was known to suggest pulling teeth as a cure for arthritis.

The moral of the story is two things we already knew:

  1. brush your teeth and floss religiously, and
  2. having RA and all that goes with it is no fun.

Oh, and don’t smoke. That apparently raises your chances of both RA and periodontal disease. But I’m tired of reading that, as I’ve never been a smoker.

Anyone else have RA and gum disease? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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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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