Arthritis And Coping With Brushing Your Teeth
This painful condition makes it difficult for millions of people to clean their teeth effectively.
According to the NHS website, around ten million people in the UK suffer from arthritis, or similar painful joint or muscular conditions.
Not all of these cases will affect the hands and arms, but it is still likely that a very significant number will do.
This can make daily tasks difficult to carry out, and whilst products have been made to help these tasks, such as a specially designed kettle, few cover the difficulties of people with arthritis when it comes to brushing their teeth.
When it is very painful, or even near impossible, to raise the arm and apply any pressure when brushing your teeth, it is highly likely that this will lead to problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. There are a few tips that might help though.
Making brushing easier
However painful or difficult it is, people with arthritis still need to brush their teeth twice a day like everybody else. The pain and difficulties may tempt you to resign yourself to having poor quality teeth, but this needn’t be the case. The NRAS (National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society) have a page on their website ( https://www.nras.org.uk/cleaning-advice-and-tips ) dedicated to brushing your teeth with arthritis, which is worth reading.
Below, our Clapham Confidental Clinic team offer a few simple tips that can really help you to brush your teeth better and keep any dental problems to a minimum.
Pre plan your brushing
Just because most people stand at the bathroom sink and brush their teeth doesn’t mean that you have to. Take a little time to think about how you can make brushing your teeth easier for you, as an individual.
It will depend on each individual person, of course, but some people with arthritis in the arms and hands, find that sitting down and supporting the arm on the edge of the sink, or on a counter, helps to support the arm and makes it easier to brush the teeth. If you use a manual toothbrush, you are likely to find it easier to switch to an electric one. Not only are these generally better for cleaning your teeth, but offer a couple of key benefits to arthritis patients.
Through the fast rotating heads of the brush, they do quite a lot of the brushing that would otherwise have to be done manually. In addition to this, while manual toothbrushes tend to have very thin handles, electric ones tend to have fatter ones where the batteries or electrics are stored. In many cases, this can make the handles much easier to grip.
As all patients of the Confidental Clinic will be aware, we firmly believe that you should not only brush your teeth, but floss between them as well. For patients with arthritic hands, holding a fine piece of floss is probably going to be almost impossible. Don’t give up though. There are hand held flossers available which you might be able to use. If not, water piks, which blast fine jets of water between the teeth may work for you. Whilst we don’t feel that these are as effective as floss, they will certainly help to remove at least some of the food and bacteria from between your teeth, where other, more traditional, methods are not possible.
We believe that everyone should see a dental hygienist every six months for a scale and polish to remove tartar from their teeth and gum line, and to generally help keep their gums in good condition. You should definitely do this if you struggle to brush and floss effectively. We may encourage you to do so more frequently to enable us to keep your teeth and gums as clean as possible and minimise any dental problems that might arise due to difficulty you may experience with brushing your teeth efficiently.
To see a dentist or hygienist at our Clapham dental surgery, please call the Confidental Clinic on 020 7801 9060.