Arthritis and the Electric Toothbrush


Electric toothbrushes help arthritis sufferers maintain proper oral hygiene.


As people with arthritis already know, arthritis can make the things we previously took for granted much, much harder.  As simple tasks become increasingly 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.

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 lessen arthritic joint pain.

There are things you can do when brushing to minimize arthritis 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 manual tension.
  • 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. 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 in the fight against rheumatoid arthritis and make life a little easier!

Arthritis and the Connection to Your Oral Health

Conditions like arthritis can have a direct impact on your oral health. Over the last decade doctors have discovered a strong link between oral health and total body health.

According to Sally Cram of the American Dental Association, physicians are taking a holistic approach to their patients’ overall health. The same can be said for the doctors at Farber Center.

What Does Arthritis Have to Do With My Mouth?

The common thread is inflammation. Poor dental hygiene can result in high bacteria build-up on teeth, which make gums prone to infection. The gums then become inflamed as a result of the immune system attacking the infection. If left untreated, a person can develop periodontal disease and tooth loss may predict rheumatoid arthritis and its severity.

Arthritis can be a threat to good oral hygiene and diminish oral health.

A recent study showed that people with serious gum disease were 40% more likely to have an additional chronic condition.

A study of early arthritis cemented the correlation between gum disease and arthritis. Participants with one or more swollen joints had significant tooth loss compared with those without swollen joints.

Ultimately, the two conditions have a direct relationship – people with rheumatoid arthritis tended to have more periodontal disease and people with periodontal disease tended to have more rheumatoid arthritis. However, more and more doctors are finding that periodontal disease precedes rheumatoid arthritis.

What Can I Do?

  • Using an electric toothbrush can make brushing easier if you are suffering from arthritis.
  • Try using floss picks for flossing to put less stress on your wrists.
  • Buy a toothpaste pump to prevent struggling with that tube.
  • Stop smoking – smoking is one of the leading causes of gum disease.

To learn more about the connection between oral health and arthritis please visit our Farber Center social media pages all month long for important facts and information.

The Farber Center for Periodontics and Dental Implants