Dental care and JIA

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JIA can affect your neck or jaw, and this can affect your dental health. If you have difficulty moving your jaw or neck, it can make brushing and or flossing your teeth difficult. To help with this, your dentist may suggest different types of toothbrush handles, electric toothbrushes or floss holders to help maintain healthy teeth and gums.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint in front of your ears where your lower jaw connects to the base of your skull. JIA may affect this joint in the same way it affects other joints. Often patients have no symptoms at all of JIA in the TMJ. By the time you develop symptoms, you may already have damage to your TMJ. This may cause pain and stiffness in the jaw. It can also alter growth so that one side of your jaw grows faster than the other. If both sides are affected, you may develop a small, receded chin, and you may get crowding of your teeth. If your lower jaw does not develop properly, it may create an overbite. To detect JIA in the TMJ, your doctor may need to do an MRI of your jaw. You may also need to see an orthodontist, who can order a panorex X-ray. Your rheumatologist can treat TMJ arthritis with medication. An orthodontist can help with mouth splints and/or braces. Sometimes, patients require surgery once their jaw has finished growing.

Dental check-ups and surgery

Keep your dentist informed about the status of the JIA and any medications you are taking, since they can also affect your oral health. For example, your dentist needs to know if you’ve had a joint replacement, as you might need an antibiotic before any dental work.

If you have active JIA, you may find it difficult to keep your mouth open for your routine dental check-ups. If this is the case, work with your dentist to make dental care as easy as possible. Sometimes more frequent, shorter visits may be helpful.

If you need any type of dental surgery, talk to your dentist to see if you need to meet with the anesthesiologist prior to the surgery. This is especially important if you have trouble opening your mouth or if you have difficulty moving your neck.

Last updated: January 31st 2017