If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you probably have experienced painful and inflamed joints, limited mobility, morning stiffness, and possible joint deformity. While these are some of the most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, there are other, less common symptoms such as those that affect your oral cavity. Here are three ways rheumatoid arthritis can affect your mouth and what you can do about them.

1. Inflammation

Rheumatoid conditions often trigger systemic inflammatory responses. When this happens, your body releases chemicals known as pro-inflammatory cytokines.  An overabundance of cytokines can lead to oral symptoms such as gingival swelling, throat pain, bleeding gums, and lip swelling.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis and develop oral symptoms, see your dentist for regular check-ups and professional dental cleanings, as this will help reduce your risk for developing complications such as infection, carious teeth, or tooth loss.

2. Periodontitis

Because rheumatoid arthritis can cause an oral inflammatory response, you may be at a heightened risk for a serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. If gingivitis is left untreated, periodontitis can develop.

This condition not only causes gum inflammation, bleeding, and pain, it can also lead to the destruction of the bones in your mouth that support your teeth. The bacteria that leads to periodontitis may also raise your risk for a dental abscess and subsequent pulp damage. If this occurs, a root canal may help save your tooth, however, your dentist may recommend extraction in extreme cases. 

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, see your dentist at the first sign of gum redness, swelling, or bleeding. When gum disease is recognized and treated in its earliest stages, your risk for developing periodontitis can be greatly reduced. 

3. Ill-Fitting Dentures

If you wear dentures and have a degenerative bone condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, you may notice that they do not fit anymore because of oral bone irregularities.  Rheumatoid arthritis can cause your dentures to feel too tight or too loose, depending upon the extent and location of your jaw deformation. See your dentist if your dentures do not fit anymore because he or she will need to take new impressions or measurements of your mouth so that the dental lab can make you a new set of dentures.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis or any other degenerative bone condition, work with both your dentist and rheumatologist to develop an effective plan of care that will help reduce your systemic symptoms as well as keep your teeth and gums in tip top shape. To learn more, contact a dental office like Ramtown Dental Associates.