If you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, your oral health isn’t always your first thought in mind.
But just as autoimmune conditions affect your overall health, they affect your dental health, too. Here are four steps you can take to help protect your mouth if you have an autoimmune condition.
If you’re living with an autoimmune condition, your dentist is an important part of your medical care team.
Your dentist and hygienist help you stay up to date with:
Make sure your dentist and hygienist are aware of your condition so that they can help determine your best scheduling options and provide you with optimal care.
Autoimmune conditions increase your risk of oral health problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Committing to good, regular oral hygiene habits at home is important.
Remove plaque by brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day to help fight the increased risk for dental problems.
Some autoimmune conditions make the act of brushing and flossing difficult. Whether your condition affects your central nervous system like multiple sclerosis or your joints like rheumatoid arthritis, it can make movement more challenging. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which can be a symptom of some autoimmune conditions, affects your jaw and can make it harder to open your mouth.
If your symptoms make brushing difficult, be sure to discuss these issues with your dentist and your physician. Your health care team may suggest treatments such as pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, oral splints, mouthguards or corticosteroid injections.
Talk to your dentist about brushing and flossing techniques that may suit your needs. Here are some simple remedies that could help with your oral health care routine at home:
Dry mouth is a symptom of many autoimmune conditions. Your saliva helps to rinse the teeth and control bacteria population in the mouth, so less of it means you’re more prone to tooth decay and other oral health issues. Over time, dry mouth leads to problems for your teeth and gums.
The most important weapons in the fight against dry mouth are:
If you’re experiencing dry mouth, be sure to discuss your symptoms with your dentist.
A diet that fights inflammation may help reduce the inflammatory responses associated with autoimmune conditions. An anti-inflammatory diet typically limits processed meats, saturated fat, refined sugars, salt and white flour while including plenty of whole grains, leafy green vegetables, berries, olive oil, beans, green tea, nuts, fish and poultry.
An autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet is a very restrictive diet that focuses on eliminating all inflammatory foods for 30 to 90 days. Foods are then slowly reintroduced back into the diet one at a time to see how the body responds.
If you have an autoimmune condition, you may benefit from the guidance of a registered dietitian. Along with diet, you should incorporate other healthy lifestyle choices that positively impact your body’s immune response, such as practicing stress reduction, quitting smoking, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep.
Last updated December 1, 2022
The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.