- by Dr. Ravneet Dhillon
- November 9, 2022
Dental implants have become a commonplace procedure these days. They are the most sought-after tooth replacement options. At the same time, we have seen a rise in autoimmune diseases. Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is amongst the more common autoimmune diseases.
What is the link between Dental Implants and Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Dental Implants require that one has good oral hygiene, a healthy jawbone, good structural integrity to support the implants, and physical health which can permit good bone healing. Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA leads to systemic inflammation.
It can cause worsening of gum disease, can weaken the jawbone, and lead to other dental health issues. On one hand, RA can be a precursor to dental health issues while on the other hand, it can interfere with the treatment of dental issues.
Wait before you think that – you are not eligible for dental implants if you have RA. This is not true. People with Rheumatoid Arthritis can have successful dental implant procedures with uneventful sequelae.
There are many studies that have shown that people with RA and even those who have other connective tissue disorders along with RA have high success rates for implant survival.
Meet your dentist and explain your history so that adequate preoperative preparations can be made and steps are taken for effective healing post implants. Modern science and medicine can do wonders for you!
Let’s understand this disease before you understand how to deal with its effects, how to maintain good oral hygiene despite RA, and how you can get dental implants without them failing.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
This is an autoimmune disorder affecting the bones, cartilage, as well as other body tissues. Autoimmune disease means that your body’s immune system starts attacking the body’s tissues.
It leads to chronic inflammation that can affect and damage the joints, skin, eyes, heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Apart from other health complications caused by RA, it can affect oral health leading to serious concerns.
This is why it is so important to understand this condition, its treatment, and its management for the success of dental treatments including dental implants.
Many new treatments are available for this disorder.
These are some of the scenarios where this procedure may be recommended by the dentists
What causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
The triggers behind why the body’s immune system acts this way and leads to Rheumatoid Arthritis are still not fully understood. Antibodies produced by the immune system start attacking tissues that line the joints.
On the level of bone tissue
This leads to inflammation of the synovium. Chemicals released as a result of this damage start damaging nearby tissues like bones, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments which eventually leads to joint destruction.
Deformity, pain, and other symptoms ensue. Rheumatoid Arthritis can also lead to inflammation in other body tissues and organs.
For a normal bone remodeling process, osteoclastic and osteoblastic activity leads to balanced bone resorption and bone deposition. This balance is disturbed in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Some studies point out some kind of similarity between this disease and periodontitis. When preoperative preparations are done adequately and diligently, surgical interventions like dental implants can be done safely.
This is why an experienced dental surgeon and a good set-up are required for treatments like dental implants.
Also Read: Oral Health- A Key to Overall Health
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
These can include
● Pain and aches in multiple joints
● Joint stiffness which is usually bilateral
● Tenderness and swelling of joints
● Loss of function as a result of bone and cartilage damage
● Fatigue and weakness
● Loss of appetite
● Low-grade fever
● Rheumatoid nodules
● Heart problems
● Breathing issues when the lungs are affected
Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms that specifically affect oral and dental health
Periodontal disease, TMJ syndrome, increased risk of cavities, and loss of healthy bone tissue to support the joint can be some of the complications of RA. These can lead to pain and bleeding from gums, loose teeth, painful chewing, swelling around the TMJ joint or affected side of the face, etc.
Sjogren’s syndrome is another associated disorder that can lead to dry mouth along with other systemic issues.
Is there a cure? How to cure Rheumatoid Arthritis permanently?
Till date, there is no cure for RA. But many effective medications are now available that slow down the progress of this disease while effectively combating inflammation and pain. DMARDs- disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs are a special class of drugs used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The main types of drugs used to treat RA are-
● Conventional DMARDs – slow the progression of the disease and can protect tissues from permanent damage
● Biological agents- are a newer class of DMARDs that are often paired with conventional ones
● Targeted synthetic DMARDs- are used when other treatments fail
● NSAIDs- can decrease pain and inflammation.
● Steroids- reduce inflammation and slow the progress of this disease.
All these drugs have their benefits and side effects. Only a specialist can make an informed decision based on the patient’s risk factors and disease severity.
In conjunction with drugs, Occupational therapy and Physiotherapy are used to improve and preserve joint strength, function, and mobility, also to prevent deformity and decrease pain.
Surgical treatments like tendon repair, synovectomy, joint fusion, joint replacement, etc, are also available. Dental surgery treatments are also available for different issues.
Should Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Get Dental Implants?
Why not? You can have RA and still be an eligible candidate for dental implants. They are certainly amongst the best tooth replacement options.
The dental surgeon at a specialty clinic like Morgan Hill Dentistry can examine your oral health, assess the situation based on your RA symptoms, and can talk to your rheumatologist regarding the scope of changes to medication if needed.
This is why you can depend on our experts because of their extensive training and experience. They can help you make an informed decision and find success with dental implants despite RA.
How does Rheumatoid Arthritis Affect Oral and Dental health?
Apart from being one of the reasons for gingivitis, TMJ syndrome, loss of teeth, etc, RA also affects the maintenance of dental hygiene.
Mobility in hands and arms may be reduced making regular activities like brushing and flossing difficult. This can increase the risk of infections.
How do Rheumatoid Arthritis medications affect dental health?
Immunosuppressants like methotrexate are used. The risk of catching infections is increased. Some drugs also lead to slower healing. Bone density may be reduced over time as a side effect of some drugs.
What kind of preparations increases the success of dental implants in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
There are many things that can be done under the expert supervision of your dentist to improve oral hygiene, get ready for dental implants, and some measures can improve the healing rate.
Electric toothbrushes and water flossers can be used to improve dental hygiene. Sugar-free lozenges can be used to promote salivation.
Antibiotic protection can be used. Pre-existing issues like gingivitis, and TMJ syndrome, are treated first. Your rheumatologist may modify medication to promote healing and prevent infection for the duration of dental treatment.
Talk to your dentist about your requirements. Inform them if you have RA and apprise them of the condition’s severity, treatment, and issues.
Talk to your medical healthcare provider regarding your need for dental implants and how they can help you safely achieve your goals.
An experienced dentist will plan a treatment tailored to your unique needs and condition. Remember, today dental implants and joint replacements have a high success rate for patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Don’t shy away from talking to your dentist. Book your appointment now at Morgan Hill Dentistry which is also an Emergency Dentistry in Morgan Hill