All about dental health26 February 2020
Psoriatic arthritis affects up to one in five of the 1.2 million people in the UK who have the skin condition psoriasis, leading to pain, inflammation and deformity. Any joint can be affected, but symptoms in fingers and toes are often most severe.
People with psoriatic arthritis, like those with rheumatoid arthritis, are prone to tooth and gum problems. You’re more than twice as likely as other people to have inflammation of the gums and poor dental health has been linked to higher rates of heart disease.
Why is it more likely that people with psoriatic arthritis experience dental issues?
We don’t know why this is. It might be that people with psoriatic arthritis have worse tooth and gum health because they find dental hygiene harder with stiff, painful joints. Or that gum disease leads to general inflammation, which could increase your risk of the autoimmune condition psoriasis.
The key issue in psoriatic arthritis is that the bone that holds the tooth in place is eroded by inflammation. Whatever the reason, it’s important to take extra care of your teeth.
Regular check-ups with your dentist and hygienist are essential. They will see you perhaps twice a year, and your teeth and gums need an awful lot of care in between. If you have arthritis (especially in your hands), you may find it difficult to hold or use a regular toothbrush. So, how can you keep your teeth and gums in tiptop shape without discomfort?
Get a better handle
A tennis ball attached to your toothbrush handle with tape makes it easier to grip. Or wrap a foam tube around the handle to improve grip.
An electric toothbrush does all the brushing back and forth, so you just have to move it around your mouth. They also usually have thicker handles than manual ones, for better grip.
Don’t forget flossing
Normal floss can be hard to manipulate and painful to wrap around inflamed fingers. Try floss sticks or a floss holder with a long handle.
Sugar-free gum increases saliva flow, reducing the acid that can lead to tooth decay. It can even reduce bad bacteria in your mouth by up to 75 per cent.
Pick up a water pick
A ‘water pick’ uses a jet of water to clean between your teeth. They have thick bases that are easy to hold in both hands if your grip is weak. Stand up for toothpaste. Toothpaste dispensers mean you won’t struggle to get toothpaste out of the end of a tube, or squirt too much out.
We’re here too
You might also be interested in...
Psoriatic arthritis causes painful joint inflammation and is often linked with the skin condition psoriasis. Learn about the causes, symptoms and treatments.
Busting the myths of psoriatic arthritis
Paul tells his story about psoriatic arthritis and corrects some common myths, such as the age you get it, if it's inevitable with psoriasis and symptoms.