As people with arthritis already know, arthritis can make the things we previously took for granted much, much harder. As simple tasks become increasingly more difficult there may be a temptation to stop doing some of the things that help a person lead a fulfilling life.
There is a laundry list of reasons why brushing regularly is beneficial for everyone. For people suffering from arthritis, it is especially important to maintain healthy teeth and gums. As a previous blog post explained there could be a connection between gum disease and arthritic pain. (http://longislandperio.com/arthritis-awareness-month-and-the-mouth-body-connection/)
Periodontal disease causes chronic inflammation as your body fights the infection. Rheumatoid arthritis is actually an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system mistakenly triggers inflammation to combat infection even when there is no virus or bacteria to fight. It stands to reason that by lessening the amount of inflammation in your body you can help lessen arthritic joint pain.
There are things you can do when brushing to minimize your arthritic pain, which in turn can help lessen your pain going forward!
- Increasing the size of your toothbrush handle by using a tennis ball or bicycle grip can lessen the manual tension required to grab the toothbrush.
- Floss picks can be easier to manipulate than traditional dental floss.
- Consider buying a toothpaste dispenser that uses a pump instead of squeezing the tube
- Be sure to receive regular cleanings every 6 months to remove additional plaque and bacteria.
The Farber Center for Periodontics and Dental Implants recommends purchasing an electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush will have a larger handle making it easier to hold while also lessening the amount of pressure and movement needed to brush effectively because an electric toothbrush can do the majority of the work for you. Modern electric toothbrushes also include a pressure sensor that will let you know if you are pushing too hard or brushing too aggressively.
Some people may be reluctant to purchase an electric toothbrush because the initial investment can be pricey when compared to manual toothbrushes. Studies proving the efficacy of electric toothbrushes can be used to justify the cost if you are hesitant:
“The subject group using the powered toothbrush demonstrated clinical and statistical improvement in overall plaque scores. Powered toothbrushes offer an individual the ability to brush the teeth in a way that is optimal in terms of removing plaque and improving gingival health, conferring good brushing technique on all who use them, irrespective of manual dexterity or training.”
Benjamin Franklin is credited with the saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” An electric toothbrush does require a larger initial investment but investing in your oral health is a smart decision. Lessening the inflammation in your body can aid you in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis and make the life you live a little easier!