Due to the pandemic, it has been 2 years since I have gone to the dentist. Not good. So I finally went. 9 cavities later. Sigh. Anyway, fibromyalgia can cause some dental and mouth issues.
One of the most common comorbid issues we have with fibromyalgia is TMJ and Bruxism. I have pretty severe TMJ (which I am sure is awesome for my migraine disease). But we have to be aware of the TMJ because not only does it cause a lot of facial and jaw pain but it can make your teeth hurt due to the nerves involved… so, no, you don’t need that root canal when it is actually just stemming from jaw pain, but, yeah, maybe do something to help with the jaw pain. And I have Bruxism, where I clench my teeth pretty hard as I sleep but do not grind them. This is pretty common since I also have Restless Leg Syndrome and Periodic Leg Movement. (Those are all linked: Read: Restless Legs Syndrome: Teeth Clenching Connection and Treatment).
Anyway, clenching and grinding your teeth can damage them. TMJ can cause a whole lot of jaw pain. And headaches. And aggravate migraines if you have them. The main treatment is a mouth guard which is expressive. But my dentist said you can order the one’s off amazon and see if they work first.
Gum pain and inflammation
There is some anecdotal evidence that we experience more bleeding gums, gum sensitivity that would make going to the dentist more painful for us. This does make sense given we have more sensitivity to pain overall and inflammation. I have had constant problems with gum sensitivity. I kept telling them it doesn’t Matter how many times I brush my teeth, they are Still sensitive.
Even before I was put on medications I had dry mouth and was constantly thirsty as a result. And later when I was diagnosed and put on medications, well, that was compounded. Dry mouth is an issue because it can cause a lot of dental problems. It leads to enamel erosion, and the teeth are left vulnerable to tooth decay (definitely for me) and also root canal infections. Dry mouth actually causes a lot of problems that we just don’t think about.
There are a lot of dry mouth products that can help. This is the one my dentist particularly recommends. I can use them during the day but also, specifically, at night to ensure my mouth gets moisture all night long:
Not only does a lot of medication cause dry mouth, which as I said, causes a lot of issues- especially, if like me, you Had dry mouth already as a symptom. But some medications we are put on for fibromyalgia or our comorbid conditions such as steroids in long-term use can cause bone loss over time. (See: 3 medications that can cause bone loss). As a result, I have Osteopenia bone loss and have to take Vitamin D and Calcium. Osteopenia can be a risk factor for tooth loss.
For me, I realize I have to go to every dentist appointment my insurance will cover to monitor my teeth regularly at this point. I am fortunate I had exceptional teeth as a kid such that all these issues compounding now, causing a lot of cavities and such, are not as bad as they would be if I started off bad. But I really have to keep on top of them at this point.
I should also note since we have a lowered immune system we can be prone to certain infections. I take an asthma preventative and have had thrush 3 times from that and if I go on an antibiotic, which I had to recently (see previous post) I got thrush Again. It is really easy to get with a crappy immune system. So with my asthma med not only to I rinse my mouth really, really well but I then brush my teeth right after and then rinse my mouth Again in order to prevent that from happening. It is insanely annoying to get that.
I know that for me going to the dentist is painful for my jaw, with the TMJ issues. And aggravating for my vertigo. So they know they have to split my appointments up a lot and give me ‘jaw’ breaks during it. So I have 4 appointments. One was a cleaning and 3 are for the cavities that I accumulated during the pandemic. So make sure you discuss your issues with your dentist. Including your medications because they will be aware of any dry mouth issues and treatments that could help you.
I was just thinking I should add the fact that cost is a major factor here. Like a HUGE factor. The reason I can go to the dentist at all is that I remain on my work long-term insurance and have my spousal insurance to cover the remainder.
I do have provincial disability insurance, but if that is All I had, I wouldn’t be able to cover the outstanding amount with my fixed income and budget of literally no extra expendable money. Saving up for basic dental work would be a real luxury. And when you consider all the health concerns that affect my teeth and the research on risk factors if your teeth are not taken care of this is an issue.
That is the whole point to my dentist pointing out buying a mouth guard for my TMJ elsewhere- because even with coverage it isn’t fully covered and I can’t afford it. But obviously having one would have an impact as it would help with my jaw pain and likely benefit my migraine disease as well. Literally anything other than the basics I can’t get done.