Dental Treatments and Autoimmune Diseases

Dental Treatments and Autoimmune Diseases

If you have an autoimmune disease (like rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes or lupus), you might be wondering if your condition impacts the type of dental treatment you can receive.

Read on to find out everything you need to know to put your mind at ease.

Can I have dental work with an autoimmune disease?

Yes you can.

However, it’s important to inform your dentist of your specific autoimmune condition before you have any dental work done. This will enable your dentist to advise you on suitable dental treatment options available to you.

There are a wide variety of autoimmune diseases.  Each one can affect the type of dental procedures that are appropriate. Some treatment adjustments may need to be made to suit your specific condition.

How autoimmune diseases can affect your dental health

Many autoimmune diseases cause damage to blood vessels and nerves in various parts of the body, including in the mouth. They can also affect the amount of saliva you produce.

People with autoimmune diseases tend to produce less saliva and have drier mouths. Sometimes this is due to medications taken to control the disease, such as antihistamines. Dry mouths are associated with tooth decay and gum disease because saliva helps to remove harmful bacteria.

People who have specific autoimmune conditions like diabetes also tend to have higher rates of gum disease because they are less able to resist infections. In addition, those who have lupus tend to be more vulnerable to mouth ulcers.

Depending on the type of autoimmune condition you have and how diligent you are with taking care of your dental health, you could be more susceptible to developing dental problems. These problems can in turn make the symptoms of your autoimmune condition worse.

Both of these factors make it vital for you to have regular dental visits and to practise good oral hygiene every day. 

Can I have an anaesthetic?

Painkillers are fine while you are having dental work done if you have an autoimmune disease. However, if you need (or want) to be rendered unconscious by anaesthesia during your treatment, it may not be appropriate. It depends on the type of autoimmune condition you have and your individual characteristics. 

Your dentist will be able to advise if sleep procedures are appropriate for your specific condition. 

Can I have my teeth whitened?

Teeth whitening is a form of cosmetic dentistry. It’s not essential for your health, but it can boost your self-confidence and appearance. 

However, it’s important to understand that teeth whitening products contain chemicals that bleach your teeth. Some of these chemicals may not be appropriate for your specific autoimmune condition. 

Talk to your dentist about whether teeth whitening is appropriate for you. If it is, your dentist will recommend a solution with a suitable chemical mix.

Can I get dental implants?

Dental implants require you to have relatively healthy gums and jawbone (or have bone grafting) so that the implant can be firmly attached. 

Your dentist will need to make an assessment of your gum and jaw health to decide whether dental implants are a suitable procedure for you. 

Can poor dental health trigger autoimmune disorders?

One US study has found that poor dental health and tooth loss can lead to a greater risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. 

Research also suggests that poor dental health can be an early sign of an autoimmune disease

How to improve your oral health 

If you have an autoimmune disease, it’s even more important to take care of your teeth and gums. This includes regular:

  • teeth brushing (at least twice a day)
  • teeth flossing (at least once a day)
  • dental visits (often free under your health fund)

All of these things can help to reduce your levels of mouth bacteria and associated tooth decay and gum disease. 

Your dentist may also be able to advise you on an appropriate sugar-free gum you can chew to help increase your saliva flow, as well as advising you on appropriate dental treatments for any issues you have. 

How we can help you

At Aria Dental in Perth, we can provide you with all the specialist advice you need for appropriate dental care and treatments if you have an autoimmune disease.   

Our services include:

Contact us at our Hay Street clinic in the Perth CBD to find out more about your dental needs. We would be happy to set up an appointment to discuss your options and to answer any questions you have.

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