Reprinted with the kind permission of Melissa Swanson and Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life.
I will admit this is not my “typical” blog. Stick with me thru the “Facts” and I will get to my story. I feel that it is something those of us on medication for our pain, depression and anxiety do not think about it. Dry mouth is a common side effect of those drugs. Without saliva, tooth decay and gum disease are more likely to occur.
Individuals with any form of arthritis, arthritis-related inflammatory disorders (Fibromyalgia for instance), or autoimmune disorders are at HIGH risk of developing many diseases of the oral cavity including, but not limited to:
Developing periodontal disease – more than twice as likely as others
Developing severe jawbone loss – moderate to severe
Extractions – averaged 12 missing teeth in studies
Researchers at the University of Maryland Medical Center published findings linking periodontal disease to autoimmunity in October 2010. This evidence of autoimmunity explains why regular flossing helps prevent periodontal problems, and it also explains why some people are affected by periodontal disease more than other people. This theory can also be linked to the fact that the risk of both periodontal disease and autoimmune disorders increase with age.
“In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.”
Of course, if it’s a possible side effect (a.k.a. evil sidekicks) of Fibromyalgia or a treatment, I am likely to get it.
I had been experiencing dry mouth for the past few years ~ Thanks to medication. Approximately 1 1/2 years ago I had been told I had the start of periodontal disease. The hygienist found I had more than several teeth pockets at 5s and 6s. I brushed my teeth twice a day but honestly only flossed for the week before my appointment.
Six months later I returned to the Dentist. I had began to floss more frequently and it had proven to work. All of my 6s were lowered to 5s.
So this week here I am again, another six months later sitting in the Dentist chair hearing the lecture “Why to Floss.”
She told me I was bleeding a lot – I told her it was normal. “Individuals with periodontal disease may experience bleeding of the gums when brushing, which is often the first sign of a problem.” “Floss for a week and the bleeding will stop.”
She continued to explain “one theory is that gum disease can cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream where they attach to the fatty deposits in the heart blood vessels. This condition can cause blood clots and may lead to heart attacks.”
Once the cleaning was done it was time for Dr. Mike to examine my teeth. He asked if he was walking in to find good news. “Of course, I deserve a gold star.” The good news is that I have lowered all but four of my numbers to 4s and only had four 5s left.
I went on to tell him he was my favorite Doctor. Not only did I not get diagnosed with a new syndrome/condition or disease but my health had improved. Even better I leave with a new toothbrush, floss and a compliment. “You have beautiful teeth.” This is one of the sidekicks of our “Invisible Illness” that is visible and we have the power to control. Drink lots of water and floss daily.
Melissa Swanson is a chronic pain patient, advocate, and author. Through her Facebook page, she offers positive encouragement, medical information, resources, and support to 10,000+ fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients. In addition to her own blog, Melissa has been published in "Living Well with Fibromyalgia" and the NFMCPA "Advocate Voice."
She is a graduate of the 2014 Class of Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association and is a member of the Leaders Against Pain Action Network.