Oral Health and Genetic Risk Factors

Successful Dental Care for People With Arthritis: Five Things You Need

Taking care of your teeth when you have arthritis can be difficult, especially as you lose more and more of the manual dexterity and strength of your hands. If you or a loved one has arthritis, there are a range of surprising things that can make dental care easier. Here are five essentials you need.

1. Rubber Ball

If you have trouble grasping your toothbrush, it can help to enlarge the handle. That makes it easier to grip even if you cannot make a fist. Have a friend or caretaker make a slit in a rubber ball, like a racket ball, and push the handle of your toothbrush through it -- now you have a super sized handle. You can also use tennis balls for this purpose.

2. Tape

If you find adding a rubber ball to your toothbrush handle doesn't appeal to you, try cushioning the grip by adding tape to your handle. Simply wrap masking or grip tape around the handle of the brush.

You can also use this technique to modify the handle of your waterpik or cordless flosser to make these tools easier to hold. In most cases, a modified flossing tool with an adapted handle makes flossing possible.

3. Shower Head

On days when you are having a flare and cannot even use a modified toothbrush or flossing tool, don't just ignore your teeth. Instead, find other accommodations. For example, a shower head can work almost like a waterpik. Simply, turn your face toward the shower head and let the water penetrate the cracks between your teeth.

4. Gum

Just as you can basically floss with a shower head, you can take care of brushing when you cannot brush with gum. Don't use bubble gum. Rather, use a sugar-free xylitol gum proven to fight cavities.

Additionally, crunchy carrots or celery can also help. As you chew these snacks, they break into abrasive pieces that essentially clean the surfaces of your teeth.

5. Flexible Emergency Dentist

Unfortunately, in addition to the loss of strength or manual dexterity that you face as a person with arthritis, your medications may also have an effect on your mouth. For example, your medications may cause you to suffer from dry mouth -- that reduces swallowing and lets plaque build up in your mouth. Unfortunately, that can cause you to need emergency dental work.

In light of that, you need an emergency dentist, such as those at Bath Street Dental Practice. However, if you have arthritis in your jaw and you struggle to keep it open for long periods of time, you also need an emergency dentist who is willing to be flexible. To that end, try to schedule short appointments so you don't have to keep your mouth open for too long or try to schedule very long appointments so that you can give your jaw a rest midway through the work.