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At Faircourt Dental Smile Studio, Dr. Mary Sue Stonisch wants you to experience the difference modern dentistry has to offer.

Mary Sue Stonisch, D.D.S. runs a general and preventative dental practice with expertise in aesthetics and implant dentistry. She is an Accredited Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and a Diplomat with the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. Dr. Stonisch also teaches Dentists as a mentor at the Kois Center in Seattle.

Have Arthritis? Reasons To Step Up Oral Wellness Measures.

As a dentist in Grosse Pointe MI, I’ve found research surrounding this profession is continually reinforcing the importance of good oral health. While having a beautiful smile is always a boost to one’s self-confidence and appearance, gum tissues are taking a well-deserved position in supporting our overall health. Backed by the findings of numerous studies, the condition of oral tissues is now known to play an intricate part in our potential to maintain good overall health.

The correlation between oral health and the development or worsening of serious health problems far beyond the mouth has long been backed by decades of research. For example, back in 2010, the Journal of Periodontology published that study findings showed that rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients were twice as likely to have gum disease compared to those without RA. They also found that those with periodontal (gum) disease had greater RA severity than those with healthy gums.

Now through the understanding of DNA sequencing, scientists have tracked germs that cause gum disease and their ability to contribute to many health problems, “including RA and other inflammatory disorders. Gum disease also has been associated with other inflammatory forms of arthritis and rheumatic conditions, including psoriatic arthritis and lupus.”

Spanish researchers also showed similar results, with RA study participants who had severe gum disease (periodontitis) also having rheumatoid arthritis. Patients with the most plaque, gum bleeding and gum tissue breakdown had the most severe levels of RA. Additional studies noted that RA patients with periodontitis, even with RA treatment, continued to have worse arthritis symptoms.

Prompted by the findings of prior studies, researchers went further in pursuit of commonalities between periodontal disease and RA. It was found that people with RA have an overactive regulation process that causes inflammation and attacks the joints. Because prior studies of periodontal samples showed a similar makeup in the joints of patients with RA, researchers focused on protein function.

As recently as 2023, a study conducted at the Rockefeller University delved further into the link. The findings, published in Science Translational Medicine, monitored a small group of individuals for several years who had blood samples collected weekly. Here’s why…

When the bacteria of gum disease enter the bloodstream through weakened gum tissues, an immune response that causes arthritis flare-ups is activated. As gum disease bacteria are able to continually leak into the bloodstream, arthritis treatments do not work as well as the gums continually release immune triggers into the bloodstream. This makes treating arthritis without first resolving gum disease a constant battle.

In addition to a correlation to RA, gum disease bacteria have been linked to heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes, preterm babies, some cancers, erectile dysfunction (ED) and Alzheimer’s disease. Obviously, these bacteria are potent and should be diligently managed.

One researcher had wise words by noting that gum disease is a curable disease that can affect other health conditions adversely. He felt it would be beneficial for doctors of RA patients to urge them to achieve and maintain excellent oral health. We agree. In addition to having regular dental check-ups, having a thorough at-home regimen is needed. This helps you maintain healthy gums between visits, to hopefully avoid problems from occurring in the first place.

This leads me to remind people that they may be able to make improvements during their time at the sink. To make the most of your at-home care between visits includes:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for a minimum of two minutes each time
  • Brush your tongue after your teeth include the back of the tongue where most bacteria are embedded. (Your gag reflex will tell you when you’ve gone too far.)
  • Floss daily
  • Avoid snacking and limit sugar (the American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 tsps daily for females, 9 for males)
  • When consuming caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda) and alcohol, drink water afterwards or swish at the sink when possible.

These measures are easy and take mere minutes per day. Also, add to these the commitment to have dental cleanings and exams twice a year (more often for highly susceptible people). These measures are especially important for:

 – older adults who have declining saliva flow

 – people who smoke or drink alcohol daily

 – people who take certain medications that have side effects of oral dryness

 – people who have sinus conditions or snore, making them more likely to breathe through the mouth and thus, dry out oral tissues

For those who have arthritis, wrangling a toothbrush or using floss can be a particular challenge. A couple of tips include:

  • For a better grip around your toothbrush, wrap it with a waterproof tape (such as “duct tape”) or secure the foam portion of a hair curler around it.
  • Flossing can be a challenge even for agile fingers. Consider purchasing a water flosser. Or, try using floss picks; some brands have easy grip handles.

Our Grosse Pointe Woods dental office understands the need to evaluate and support each patient based on their unique needs. We are happy to accept new patients of all ages and help all enjoy the lifetime benefits of a healthy, beautiful, and confident smile. Call 313-882-2000 to schedule an appointment or tap here to get started.







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