Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is a chronic multisystem disease of presumed autoimmune etiology. It is estimated that arthritis and other rheumatic conditions affect 42.7 million Americans. Medical complications due to RA and its treatment may affect the provision of oral health care.
The authors undertook an extensive review of the English literature relating to RA and dental care. They used primarily MEDLINE searches, which included such key words as "rheumatoid arthritis" and "dental care" and subsequent appropriate subheadings. While the MEDLINE search spanned the years from 1975 to the present, the most recent literature was prioritized. Appropriate medical and dental textbooks were also used. The authors extrapolated information from selected texts based on its relevance to dentistry, oral health and the role of the dental provider in the overall treatment of RA patients.
The authors reviewed nearly 200 articles and seven textbooks. Their determination of the texts' relevance to oral health care was based on content, significance, quality, journal in which articles were published and year of publication. Major features of RA--including its diagnosis, pathophysiology, clinical features and medical treatment--were identified, as well as complications due to treatment modalities and various related oral manifestations and conditions.
Medical complications due to RA and its treatment can affect oral health care. Oral health care providers need to recognize and identify modifications of dental care based on the medical status of patients with RA. Furthermore, oral health care providers play an important role in the overall care of these patients as it release to early recognition, as well as control of the disease.
In most patients with RA, the condition will necessitate few or no changes in routine dental care. However, considerations include the patient's ability to maintain adequate oral hygiene, xerostomia and its related complications, the patient's susceptibility to infections, impaired hemostasis, and untoward drug actions and interactions. Patients with RA may require antibiotic prophylaxis owing to joint replacement and/or immune suppression, glucocorticosteroid replacement therapy and modifications in oral hygiene procedures. Intra- and extraoral conditions such as ulcerations, gingival overgrowth, disease-associated periodontitis and temporomandibular pathology also need to be recognized.