Rheumatoid Arthritis and Your Teeth: What You Should Know (2023)

The chronic autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis causes joint pain and inflammation. It can also lead to dental problems.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disease that most noticeably causes joint pain, swelling, and inflammation. There are also other less noticeable problems that can arise from RA, including effects on your teeth and oral health.

Your jawbone, teeth, and other oral structures need a strong support system, and RA can make regular brushing and flossing more difficult.

Certain medications used to treat RA — as well as other health conditions — can also lead to dry mouth and cause other oral and dental problems. While that may not happen often as a result of RA medication use, consulting a healthcare team can be an important way of determining possible side effects for any prescription or over-the-counter medications.

This article will explore some of the most common oral and dental issues that can develop in people who have RA and what steps you can take.

Bone loss associated with RA can certainly affect your oral health. RA is an autoinflammatory disease that affects your entire body.

Although changes might be most noticeable in your joints where the pain and inflammation are most pronounced, bone destruction and decay can happen in many other areas of your body too.

Below are some of the main ways RA can cause problems for your oral health.

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease may be a trigger for RA in some people.

This is a chronic inflammatory disease triggered by a film of bacteria that can develop on your teeth and gums. Eventually, this bacterial growth leads to inflammation and tissue damage. Your collagen-rich tissues are most at risk of damage from both RA and periodontal disease.

(Video) Dental Health Tips for Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients

In RA, this loss can happen in your:

  • bone
  • cartilage
  • tissues around your joints (periarticular tissues)

In periodontal disease, damage can occur to:

  • the ridge of bone that holds your teeth (alveolar bone)
  • the ligaments that hold your teeth in place (periodontal ligaments)
  • your gums (gingiva)

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction is a common issue in people with RA.

The TMJ is used more than 2,000 times per day for chewing and speaking. Between 5% and 86% of people with RA are believed to have discomfort in this joint.

One study found:

  • About 45% of people with RA who experienced TMJ problems had difficulty chewing.
  • About 40% had to make changes to their diet because of these chewing problems.
  • About 30% had pain with eating.
  • About 36% took pain medication for TMJ-related issues.

Dry mouth

Autoimmune conditions like RA and Sjögren’s disease are also common causes of problems with your salivary glands.

Salivary gland problems that result in dry mouth — and eventually cause additional issues like cavities — occur in roughly 30% to 50% of people with RA.

On top of physical problems with your salivary glands that could lead to dry mouth, certain medications used to treat RA and its associated conditions can cause dry mouth as a side effect.

Specific arthritis medications that can cause the saliva glands in your mouth to dry out are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including Celebrex.

Other medications that may cause dry mouth, but aren’t specifically for RA include:

  • antihistamines
  • antidepressants
  • antipsychotics
  • blood pressure pills
  • diuretics
  • pain relievers
  • sedatives

Are there effects on your jaw from RA?

(Video) Dental Health and Rheumatoid Arthritis

RA is a chronic disease where your body attacks its own cells, causing damage and decay over time in your bones, joints, and other tissues.

RA can cause pain and inflammation, usually in more than one joint of your body — and this could be any joint. The TMJ is what moves your jawbone as you speak and chew. Problems in this joint can be painful and particularly difficult to endure since there’s nothing you can really do to avoid using this area.

Although TMJ bony deconstruction can be an issue, it’s rare for adults whose inflammatory symptoms are well controlled.

There’s also decay that can happen with your jawbone due to the RA disease process as well as medications used to treat RA.

The term medication-related osteonecrosis of the jaw was first used to describe jawbone damage from certain medications in 2014. It specifically describes damages to your jawbone that can happen when you use certain medications.

Teeth that are extracted and replaced with dental implants require new bone growth to occur in order for the implantation to be successful. In people with RA, or people who take certain medications to treat RA, their bone growth is slow or nonexistent.

Some studies show a higher rate of dental implant failure in people with RA or those who are treated for RA compared with people without the disease. But having RA or Sjögren’s disease doesn’t mean you can’t get dental implants. A dental or rheumatology specialist can help guide you on the possible risks and benefits.

Can you get tooth extraction if you have RA?

(Video) What do your teeth have to do with arthritis?

Dental extractions are sometimes needed to address oral health problems.

If you need to have a tooth pulled and you have RA, you may experience some additional complications.

But depending on the reason you’re having a tooth extracted, those issues might not be a reason to avoid the extraction. Delaying a tooth extraction that’s necessary for treating things like infection could cause you a host of other problems.

Talk with a dentist or healthcare professional about your individual reasons to have and risks with a tooth extraction. RA and the medications used to treat it are rarely a reason to delay or cancel a tooth extraction.

RA doesn’t affect your teeth directly.

It’s a disease that attacks the cells that make up your bones, joints, and connective tissues. This means that RA can affect your gums and overall dental health, but not your teeth specifically.

Certain medications that are used to treat RA can cause you dental problems.

(Video) Rheumatoid Arthritis and Dental Health | What you need to know #DentalHealth

Medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that suppress your immune system are the primary treatment for RA.

While these medications do a good job in reducing RA pain and inflammation, they can also increase your risk of infection and potentially cause you to lose bone density.

All of these things could possibly contribute to tooth pain, especially if you develop oral infections or loose teeth as a result.

Pain is a big part of RA. Although some medications used to treat RA inflammation may reduce pain, you may also be prescribed NSAIDs or other pain relievers as well. These medications can treat many types of pain and should help with any dental pain you have as well as RA pain.

If you experience tooth pain as your only symptom, it might not be caused by RA.

But if you’ve received a diagnosis of RA and you begin having tooth pain, talk with a healthcare team or dentist. They may be able to rule out more complex causes of pain or infection, especially if you have RA and are taking medications that can suppress your immune system.

RA is a chronic disease that causes your body to attack its own joints and bones. Any joints and bones can be affected, including those in your jaw and mouth.

(Video) Rheumatoid arthritis and your teeth... what's the connection?

If you have RA, it’s important to take steps to prevent infections and other forms of inflammation in your mouth with good dental hygiene. There’s a chance any tooth extractions or implants could be made more difficult by RA and the slow bone growth associated with it, but a dentist or healthcare team can help you take steps to reduce your risk of complications.


How does rheumatoid arthritis affect teeth? ›

The effects of rheumatoid arthritis

In addition to general health complications, RA can cause you to develop serious oral conditions, such as: Gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that causes swollen and tender gums. Periodontitis, an inflammatory condition affecting the bone and tissue supporting the teeth.

What is a good breakfast for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Hot and cold cereals are good options. They are quick ways to get a serving of fiber-full whole grains that can help reduce inflammation. While oatmeal may be your go-to grain, there are several nutritious cereals made from corn, brown rice, quinoa, hemp, buckwheat and kamut.

What is the first thing to do when you have rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Lifestyle and home remedies
  1. Exercise regularly. Gentle exercise can help strengthen the muscles around your joints, and it can help reduce fatigue you might feel. ...
  2. Apply heat or cold. Heat can help ease your pain and relax tense, painful muscles. ...
  3. Relax. Find ways to cope with pain by reducing stress in your life.
Jan 25, 2023

What not to eat in rheumatoid arthritis? ›

6 Foods to Avoid When You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Red Meat. Many cuts of red meat contain high levels of saturated fat, which can exacerbate inflammation and also contribute to obesity. ...
  • Sugar and Refined Flour. ...
  • Fried Foods. ...
  • Gluten. ...
  • Alcohol. ...
  • Processed Foods.
Feb 27, 2021

Are rheumatoid arthritis patients candidates for dental implants? ›

Although there isn't a cure, it can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes. While RA affects the joints, many people with the condition are still candidates for dental implants; however, every situation differs.

What autoimmune disease makes your teeth hurt? ›

Sjogren's Syndrome is one of the most common autoimmune diseases that affect dental health.

Is peanut butter good for rheumatoid? ›

Nuts are rich in fiber — healthy fats, and nutrients like magnesium — and are smart additions to a rheumatoid arthritis diet.

Is peanut butter OK for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Peanut butter

Peanut butter also contains resveratrol, which can ease joint pain in arthritis by reducing inflammation and protecting cartilage.

What's the best fruit for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Citrus foods, such as oranges, grapefruit, lemon, and limes, are rich in vitamin C, and are also good sources of inflammation-fighting antioxidants, which are beneficial for those with rheumatoid arthritis.

What is the most successful drug for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Three years later, methotrexate won FDA approval for treating RA, and it soon became the treatment of choice for people with this condition and other forms of inflammatory arthritis as well. About 90% of RA patients use methotrexate at some point.

How do you calm a rheumatoid arthritis flare up? ›

Use cool packs.
  1. Use aids, for example, a stick if your knee is a problem.
  2. Wear the right shoes.
  3. Do gentle exercises, to help relieve the stiffness that makes the pain worse.
  4. Take your pain medication regularly and at the right dose.
  5. Use hot baths or showers to relieve early morning stiffness and pain.

What is the number 1 inflammatory food? ›

The five types of foods that cause inflammation include:
  • Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats.
  • Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.
  • Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries.
  • Sodas and other sweetened drinks.
Jun 29, 2022

Can I eat pizza with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Saturated fats – Traditional American diet staples such as pizza, red meat and pasta dishes can contain saturated fats, which can lead to arthritis inflammation.

What should you not drink with arthritis? ›

In general, avoid soda since it can be full of sugar, aspartame and phosphoric acid. The latter can negatively affect your body's ability to absorb calcium. Water can get a bit boring, but there are other ways to stay healthy and hydrated.

What is end stage rheumatoid arthritis? ›

The end stage of RA means that most of the tissue that was formerly inflamed has been destroyed, and bone erosion has occurred. The affected joints stop functioning and patients experience pain and severe loss of mobility.

What dental tools for arthritis? ›

Hand-held flosser tools work well for flossing with arthritis. Hand-held flossers range in size from the smaller “interdental” flossers, to flossers with long handles and disposable flossing ends. Another way to replace the string altogether is an electric flosser that uses water or mouthwash to blast the plaque away.

Who Cannot have dental implants? ›

People with gingivitis, periodontist or any other form of gum disease cannot have dental implants. This is because this condition destroys the gums and the bone beneath. As a result, too much bone loss leads to lack of sufficient bone for the implant to attach. Dentists often suggest treating gum diseases first.

Why is my body attacking my teeth? ›

One example of this is root resorption, which is an inflammatory process where the body's own cells attack and destroy the dentin and cementum of the teeth. Left unchecked, this process can result in serious damage to teeth, which may even result in the need for extraction.

Can rheumatoid arthritis cause weak teeth? ›

A study conducted at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center found that gum disease and tooth loss are more prevalent in people who have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Another syndrome that is known to hinder oral health is Sjögren's syndrome. This syndrome can be seen in people who have rheumatic diseases.

What diseases cause rapid tooth decay? ›

Common Diseases That Cause Tooth Decay
  • Diabetes. Diabetes has perhaps the most significant cause and effect relationship with tooth decay. ...
  • Autoimmune Conditions. Autoimmune conditions are a family of diseases that involve the body attacking parts of itself. ...
  • Anorexia and Bulimia.
Nov 22, 2018

Is popcorn good for people with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

* Popcorn. Great for "movie nights,' popcorn's antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties also make it a good anytime snack. * Nuts and Seeds. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds all contain vitamin E, which can help reduce joint pain and cramps.

Can I eat cheese with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Myth: Dairy Makes RA Worse

You don't have to cut milk, cheese, or yogurt from your diet. There's not much evidence that your joints will feel better if you skip those foods. And keep in mind that some RA meds put you at greater risk for osteoporosis, so you don't want to miss out on dairy's bone-building benefits.

Does rice affect rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Whole grain rice is a better choice for people with arthritis for many reasons, including the ability to fight inflammation. Refined grains have very little nutritional value and can worsen inflammation throughout the body.

What sweet snacks can I have with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Eight Yummy Dessert Ideas That People With RA Can Feel Good About
  • Fruit Salad. ...
  • Dark Chocolate. ...
  • Yogurt With Berries, Granola, or Walnuts. ...
  • Cottage Cheese With Berries and Cinnamon. ...
  • Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. ...
  • Yogurt With Banana and Curry. ...
  • Cherry Cobbler. ...
  • Grilled Peaches With Ricotta Cheese.
Feb 9, 2021

What are the best snacks for arthritis pain? ›

To ease your arthritis pain, try these types of food:
  • Fatty Fish. Salmon, mackerel and tuna have high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Both of these have been found to help reduce inflammation. ...
  • Dark Leafy Greens. ...
  • Nuts. ...
  • Olive Oil. ...
  • Berries. ...
  • Garlic and Onions. ...
  • Green Tea.
May 30, 2018

Can I eat oatmeal with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Go With the Grain

Whole grains lower levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in the blood. CRP is a marker of inflammation associated with heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Foods like oatmeal, brown rice and whole-grain cereals are excellent sources of whole grains.

Is Sweet Potato good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Sweet Potatoes

The beta-carotene in sweet potatoes has been shown to fight inflammation, and eating them regularly can help ease joint pain and other symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

What is the strongest anti-inflammatory fruit? ›

Berries. From strawberries and blackberries to cranberries and blueberries, these gemlike fruits are particularly potent in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.

What is the most common cause of death in patients with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Heart disease should be considered a serious cause for concern among people with RA, even those who've yet to reach middle age.

Is cheese bad for arthritis? ›

Several studies have shown that saturated fats trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, which is not only an indicator for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation. Pizza and cheese are the biggest sources of saturated fats in the average American diet, according to the National Cancer Institute.

How should you sleep with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Elevate Your Legs and Find the Right Position

It can be helpful to slide a pillow under your knees, if you sleep on your back, to alleviate pressure on knee joints, hips, and back while you sleep. If you're a side sleeper, place a pillow or two between your knees, advises the Arthritis Foundation.

What is the new pill for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

The newest drugs for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis are the Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, which are FDA approved under the brand names Rinvoq, Olumiant, and Xeljanz.

What triggers rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Researchers think it's caused by a combination of genetics, hormones and environmental factors. Normally, your immune system protects your body from disease. With rheumatoid arthritis, something triggers your immune system to attack your joints. An infection, smoking or physical or emotional stress may be triggering.

Is rheumatoid arthritis considered a disability? ›

Is Arthritis a Disability? Simply being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis does not qualify you for disability. However, if your ability to work is greatly affected or impaired by your condition, then with the proper documentation, you may be entitled to SSA disability benefits.

How do you get rid of rheumatoid arthritis fatigue? ›

Take breaks before you become too exhausted. Get to bed early, take naps and learn relaxation techniques. Avoid going out at busy times of the day, for instance when you go shopping or on a trip. Talk with others about your disease so that they can better understand how it affects you.

What makes rheumatoid arthritis feel better? ›

Take the longer way to a meeting in your office. Balancing activity with rest. It's important to try to stay physically active even during a flare, but rest is also especially important when RA is active and joints feel painful, swollen or stiff. Rest helps reduce inflammation and fatigue that can come with a flare.

Does a hot bath help rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Soaking for 15 to 20 minutes in a warm bath allows the weight-bearing muscles to relax. A warm shower can also help lessen the stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis.

What fruit is not good for arthritis? ›

Citrus fruits cause inflammation

Some people believe that they should avoid citrus fruits because the acidity is inflammatory.

What are 3 foods that reduce inflammation? ›

Anti-inflammatory foods

green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards. nuts like almonds and walnuts. fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

What is the strongest natural anti-inflammatory? ›

1. Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids , which are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon or tuna, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory supplements. These supplements may help fight several types of inflammation, including vascular inflammation.

Is Hamburger good for rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Processed and red meats

The study in 217 people with RA mentioned above also found that red meat commonly worsened RA symptoms. Additionally, a study in 25,630 people determined that high red meat intake may be a risk factor for inflammatory arthritis ( 2 , 7 ).

Can you eat ice cream with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Added sugars

But studies show that they can be especially harmful to people with arthritis. Soda, candy, ice cream and condiments all contain added sugars and should be avoided when possible. One study showed that foods with added sugars were the most likely to worsen the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Can you eat pasta with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Wheat products — like pasta, bread, crackers, and bagels — may spell trouble for your joints, especially if you have rheumatoid arthritis. The reason? Wheat contains gluten, a protein that can irritate and aggravate arthritic joints.

What are the five best fruits for arthritis? ›

Best Fruits for Arthritis
  • Fruit Basics. All fruits have health benefits, but some have more disease-fighting properties than others. ...
  • Tart cherries. ...
  • Strawberries. ...
  • Red Raspberries. ...
  • Avocado. ...
  • Watermelon. ...
  • Grapes.

Does cranberry juice help with arthritis? ›

Berries are rich in antioxidants and the Arthritis Foundation notes that blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries, raspberries and boysenberries all provide arthritis-fighting power.

Does pineapple help arthritis? ›

Pineapple also helps relieve joint pain because it has a compound called bromelain. Bromelain is an effective pain reliever for people who have osteoarthritis. It can also reduce the inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Can rheumatoid arthritis affect your jaw and teeth? ›

RA can affect the jaw, just as it can affect any other joint in the body, and it is estimated that in more than 17% of patients with RA, the jaw joint is affected.

How does autoimmune disease affect teeth? ›

Tooth decay.

Many autoimmune conditions result in a decrease in saliva if the immune system attacks the salivary glands. Saliva helps to rinse the teeth and control bacteria population in the mouth, so less of it means you're more prone to tooth decay.

Is there an autoimmune disease that affects teeth and gums? ›

Gingivitis and Gum Disease

Inflammation in the gums is linked to several different autoimmune disorders, including lupus, Crohn's disease, and scleroderma, among others. Gingivitis is a condition in which gums are inflamed and red; it's a precursor to gum disease.

What is the link between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease? ›

One study found that if you have RA, you are twice as likely to have gum disease as those without it. Another study found that 65% of people with RA also had gum disease, compared to only 28% of people without RA. In both studies, experts found that the severity of periodontal disease was also worse in people with RA.

How do you treat rheumatoid arthritis in the jaw? ›

Anti-inflammatory medications are commonly used to treat jaw pain from RA. Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Aleve (naproxen) and Advil (ibuprofen) help reduce swelling and jaw pain.

Can rheumatoid arthritis affect your face? ›

Arthritis can cause painful, swollen knees or fingers that are impossible to ignore. But other parts of the body, including the skin, eyes and lungs can also be affected.

Does methotrexate damage teeth? ›

Chemotherapy treatments – Chemotherapy medications, like methotrexate, can lead to inflammation of the inside lining of your mouth and result in tooth decay.

What are autoimmune oral signs? ›

Oral Lichen Planus: This oral autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks the mucous membranes inside your mouth, according to The Mayo Clinic. It will appear as lacy white patches, sometimes accompanied by painful sores on the lining of the cheeks, tongue, and gums.

What are 2 health conditions linked to gum disease? ›

Research has linked oral health problems such as periodontal or gum disease to many health conditions, including diabetes, heart and kidney disease, Alzheimer's, asthma, osteoporosis, and cancer.

Can you lose your teeth from autoimmune disease? ›

Autoimmune diseases often cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the body, which includes those in the mouth. When blood vessels in the gums are damaged, there is an increased risk of gum disease. The support structure for the teeth can also start to deteriorate as a result.

What is lupus teeth? ›

Tooth decay was present in 100% of people with active lupus disease and 85% of people with inactive lupus – possibly due to reduced salivary flow or dry mouth, a common development of lupus. People with lupus exhibit more tooth loss than healthy population.

What virus is associated with rheumatoid arthritis? ›

Viruses may also play a role in triggering RA. According to the Cleveland Clinic, people with RA, on average, have higher levels of antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus (which causes mononucleosis) than the general population. The Epstein-Barr virus isn't the only virus suspected as an infectious agent in RA.

What does rheumatoid arthritis affect the most? ›

RA mainly attacks the joints, usually many joints at once. RA commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists, and knees. In a joint with RA, the lining of the joint becomes inflamed, causing damage to joint tissue.

What other issues can rheumatoid arthritis cause? ›

Rheumatoid arthritis increases your risk of developing:
  • Osteoporosis. ...
  • Rheumatoid nodules. ...
  • Dry eyes and mouth. ...
  • Infections. ...
  • Abnormal body composition. ...
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. ...
  • Heart problems. ...
  • Lung disease.
Jan 25, 2023


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