Are Rheumatoid Arthritis and TMD Connected?

Rheumatoid Arthritis

What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joints. Symptoms include pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of physical function in areas like your feet, hands, wrists, and more. RA can affect any joint in the body, including the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), causing joint pain and the development of temporomandibular disorder (TMD).

The Relationship between Rheumatoid Arthritis and TMJ

RA is caused by an autoimmune complication and unlike other joint inflammations such as Osteoarthritis, it can affect any joint in the body. The immune system attacks healthy joint tissue by accident and results in painful inflammation. A high number of RA sufferers also suffer from TMJ-related problems. As many as 90 percent of RA sufferers also suffer from TMD, although researchers are unaware as to why.

It is more common for women to suffer from TMD and the same is the case for RA. Approximately 3 times as many women have issues with RA than men.

How to Alleviate symptoms of TMD

Common symptoms of TMD include pain in the joints surrounding the mouth and skull, stiffness in the jaws, misalignment of the teeth, and locking the jaw. A popping noise may occur when chewing, and some sufferers may have trouble eating or speaking altogether.

With just a few lifestyle changes, the following tips may help to alleviate symptoms of jaw pain:

  • Eat softer foods
  • Apply hot and cold packs
  • Massage the muscle around the joint
  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Don’t open your mouth too wide while eating, talking, or yawning
  • Jaw exercises (with permission from your doctor)

Are You a Candidate for Neuromuscular Dentistry?

You may be a candidate for Neuromuscular Dentistry if you suffer from TMD symptoms. ND is a dental treatment that is intended to correct a misalignment of the jaw at the TMJ and may help lessen the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and it has affected your temporomandibular joint, call C&C Dentistry today.

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