Nearly 1.5 million Americans are affected by the autoimmune condition rheumatoid arthritis (RA). RA is caused when the immune system sees the joints as 'foreign invaders' and attacks them.

RA can cause pain and inflammation in the joints, including the jaw.

When the jaw is affected by RA, it can translate to painful symptoms such as tenderness, stiffness and pain.

These symptoms can make everyday actions such as chewing and talking difficult.

Other effects of RA on the jaw can include crepitus, the name for the cracking, snapping and popping of the jaw joints - known medically as the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) - when the jaw moves. In some cases, the jaw can also become stuck or 'locked' in place when the patient is speaking or yawning.

Researchers estimate that up to 88 percent of people living with RA experience its side effects in the jaw, but only a small number of those individuals report symptoms.

When RA affects the TMJs, it typically affects both sides of the jaw, so patients often notice uncomfortable symptoms on both sides of the face.

'Stiffness, pain, and muscle tension or soreness are common symptoms when the jaw is affected,' said Dr. Sean Endsley, a Waco, Texas, dentist.

While RA is a cause of jaw pain, a more common cause of jaw pain is temporomandibular joint disorder, also known as TMD.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 10 million people are living with TMD and its uncomfortable side effects.

'Many people living with TMD experience aching, pain and stiffness, noises when they move their jaw, or a decreased range of motion when moving the jaw,' Endsley said.

So, Is It RA or TMD?

If you're experiencing pain in the jaw joint only, it is likely TMD. If you're experiencing pain in the jaw joint and other joints, you could have RA.

Other symptoms of RA include fatigue, redness, stiffness, anemia and rash.

'If pain is related to the jaw joint only, talk to your dentist about what is happening and explain your symptoms,' Endsley said.

Causes of TMD may be related to clenching or grinding of the teeth (bruxism), stress, poor posture, a misaligned bite or trauma.

Early intervention for TMD can help prevent the condition from getting worse - and may help keep patients out of severe pain.

'If you're experiencing the early warning signs and symptoms of TMD, it is important to get early intervention,' Endsley said.

 

Source:

Medical News Today. How can rheumatoid arthritis affect the jaw? 15 July 2019.

Covid-19

A NOTE TO OUR PATIENTS

The well-being of our patients has always been our top priority!

Legends Dental is following the recommendations of Governor Abbott, Texas State Dental Board, ADA, as well as the CDC. We will be limiting our services effective immediately. Due to recent circumstances and for the safety and well-being of our patients, their families, and our community, we will not be performing any routine or non-urgent dental procedures at this time.

Though our office hours have been temporarily shortened, our team will continue to support anyone who may be experiencing pain and all who require an Emergency Care Visit.

If you are experiencing a dental emergency or having pain, please text our office at (254)776-0691 or call (254)799-9540 so we may get you scheduled as quickly as possible. You can also message us on Facebook.

Examples of urgent dental care treatments include:
Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation. Surgical postoperative osteitis or dry socket dressing changes. Abscess or localized bacterial infection resulting in localized pain and swelling. Tooth fracture resulting in pain or causing soft tissue trauma. Dental treatment cementation if the temporary restoration is lost, broken or causing gingival irritation. Extensive decay or defective restorations causing pain; suture removal; denture adjustments or repairs when function impeded; and snipping or adjustments of an orthodontic wire causing pain.

Additionally, our team is here to help those affected by cancellations. We will gladly assist with rescheduling to a time that is best for you. If you have an appointment that may be affected, or would like to reschedule regardless, please call (254)799-9540 or text (254)776-0691 so we may accommodate you.

We love all our patients and look forward to being able to serve all of your dental needs as soon as possible!! Thank you for you time and understanding during these circumstances.